Ever been to a website where you feel you’ve entered a roach motel?
A site where it’s easy to enter but hard to leave?
Email newsletter subscriptions sometimes do this. They make it simple to subscribe, but difficult to unsubscribe.
Or maybe you’ve been the object of “privacy Zuckering?” That’s when a site deliberately creates confusing jargon and user-interfaces that cause you to reveal more about yourself than you want to.
Some companies and websites intentionally use a variety of methods to trick you.
Harry Brignull, a user-interface designer calls these tricky methods Dark Patterns. He maintains a website that catalogs this alphabet of woe. In a recent article Brignull wrote about Dark Patterns. In it he explains how some companies design interfaces to trick you into doing things you don’t want to do. And then they make it difficult to change your mind and reverse your action.
What causes some companies to trick you?
Why would people at these companies deliberately use human psychology to trick you and earn your mistrust? It’s unethical. Sometimes illegal. And it simply doesn’t work very well to win and keep new customers.
In some cases people at these companies trick you because internal incentives override the interests of the user. “The boss said get more subscriptions and he doesn’t care what you have to do to get them!”
Or the company is large and complacent and feels little accountability to its users. Think large banks and utilities.
It’s hard for people at large companies to remember the user and the customer because they are so far removed from you.
Amazon is an exception to this pattern. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos includes an empty chair at important meetings that involve product design. “It’s there to remind those assembled who’s really the most important person in the room: the customer.”
Their tricks create an opportunity for you
This tendency of larger companies to design user-interfaces that trick and create mistrust opens an opportunity for you. You can design your online presence to create trust in your brand.
Recently Seth Godin wrote:
When you have a choice in what to buy, you will first and foremost (and second and third in fact) base your choice on a simple question, “who do I trust to keep the promise that the marketers are making?”
The fact is, people will soon forget if they overpaid for something. They will probably never (ever!) forget if you violated their trust.
How exactly do you go about creating trust?
Simply remember the three essential qualities you need to create trust:
- Virtue—your users believe that you share similar values to them.
- Practical wisdom (street smarts)—you appear to know the right thing to do in every situation.
- Selflessness—the interests and needs of your users and customers seem to be your sole concern.
In the case study we learn that the people at Simplifilm understand that the “service business runs the show.” They know that they have to deliver “a coherent and awesome experience for customers.” Customers like Seth Godin, Brad Feld, and Robert Greene found Simplfilm’s virtue credible and hired them to make their videos.
We also learn that Simplifilm is “great at what they do” (practical wisdom).
Simplifilm has written blog posts that explain scriptwriting and how to pick a voiceover artist. Visitors find value in these posts. They establish credibility that Simplifilm puts users’ needs ahead of its own (selflessness).
Tell your story and use it to demonstrate your virtue, your practical wisdom, and your selflessness. You’ll create trust with your users. And you’ll achieve a competitive advantage against larger organizations that have lost the trust of their users.