7 Ways to Build an App That Users Trust

04/09/2015 04:09 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2015


When it comes to building an app, there are a ton of best practices that are seen as essential in creating a cohesive, user-friendly experience. These typically involve overarching design details, but also include everything from monetization options to specific platform considerations. One thing that businesses rarely focus on when creating an app, however, is how they'll gain a user's trust. Instead, they assume that their app is automatically good enough to deserve a customer's trust.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where trust is not a given in the app landscape. And while it's possible for businesses like Uber and Apple to carry on even after trust-related disasters in the public eye, these kinds of missteps can often mean the difference between success and failure for smaller businesses who aren't as equipped to deal with similar fallout.

In the current tech landscape, trust is -- as the industry trends analysts at Hyper Island phrase it -- a "high-value currency." Here are seven ways to build an app with a solid foundation of user trust.

1. Be professional

It may sound self-explanatory, but professionalism is the cornerstone of building trust in your software. In every aspect of your app or website, make sure that you're demonstrating your expertise. Whether it involves quality design, speedy performance, or great content, be sure that your user is never second-guessing your credibility because of an otherwise-insignificant flaw. No detail is too small when it comes to establishing professionalism - even a small typo in your app's text can strongly influence a user's perception of your app.


2. Wherever you can, show your credentials

Sometimes, the smallest signals can make all the difference to a user. Whenever you're asking a user for their credit card number, you're taking a huge leap in trust. This makes it essential to show that you've been approved by some objective third-party. Indicating that you're TRUSTe certified, for instance, can mean the difference between a conversion and a pass. Wherever you have applicable certifications, try to provide some sort of watermark or insignia to denote that you've been evaluated and approved by a trusted outside organization.

3. Predict the user's concerns and address them early

If you have to ask a user for information, the first question that often comes to their mind is "why do you need this?" What many apps do nowadays is to let the user know why and how their information will be used. If you're requesting access to a user's location services, for instance, let the user know exactly how their experience will improve by allowing this access. By letting them know how they'll benefit, you motivate them to give you access to the features that allow your app to work.

4. Keep important information out in the open

One of the fastest ways to lose consumer trust is to give them the idea that you're not being forthcoming with them. Unfortunately, there are many user interfaces which routinely use vague language and functionality in order to trick users into taking certain actions. These types of designs, which the site Dark Patterns attempts to expose, are exactly the type of thing you don't want to include in your own software. Try to counter even the slightest perception that your app may be running a "dark pattern," and your user trust will benefit tremendously.

5. Tell us about yourself

One way to develop transparency is to give the user a sense of who you are. Whether you do this on your website or from within your own app ("Credits" listings and "About" sections are good for accomplishing this), do what you can to be forthcoming with your company's background and motivations. This is already a crucial part of creating a trustworthy corporate identity, but can also be useful when implemented in your own software.


6. Provide security options

It seems that high-profile security breaches are becoming commonplace across the software world, with even some of the largest corporations facing major hacks. As a result, it can be difficult for customers to trust that their credit card numbers and personal information will remain safe with a new app they're not used to. In fact, if your security is seen as lacking, you face the risk of losing some of your user base. The best way to counteract this is to offer options when it comes to security. Whether it's two-factor authentication or quick response times to security-related customer inquiries, it's important that you're not slouching when it comes to user privacy.

7. Get a good writer

Often, one of the biggest barriers standing between an app and a smooth user experience is that the language is vague or confusing. When the user doesn't understand an app's functionality due to poor writing, you're forfeiting a sense of trust that should have been simple to acquire. The importance of writing in UX has become a popular topic of conversation for two reasons: Because good writing is a great tool for building user trust, and because it's an essential part of a clear, streamlined UX.