Why and How to Gain the Trust of Users

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show, we explore the importance of trust in encouraging users to act.

This week’s show is sponsored by Balsamiq and Fullstory.


Paul Boag: This week on the Boagworld Show, we explore the importance of trust in encouraging users to act. This week's show is sponsored by Balsamiq and FullStory.

Hello and welcome to the Boagworld Show, the podcast about all aspects of conversion rate optimization, user experience, and digital strategy. My name is Paul Boag. Joining me on this week's show is Marcus Lillington

Marcus Lillington: Hello, Paul.

Paul Boag: Hello, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: How are you?

Paul Boag: I am very, very good.

Marcus Lillington: You're not. You're lying.

Paul Boag: No, I am actually. I am good. I am good. It's just I don't like recording podcasts first thing in the morning. You haven't got your momentum going yet.

Marcus Lillington: I know what you mean, but I'm quite pleased to be getting it out of the way today.

Paul Boag: Oh, have you got a lot on?

Marcus Lillington: I've just come back from holiday which was lovely. I mentioned-

Paul Boag: Oh, you managed to get that in.

Marcus Lillington: … that last week, and the weather was perfect.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: It was nice food and da la-la-la-la. Tomorrow, I'm off to America for work, so it's just mental.

Paul Boag: Oh, I'm off to America soon as well. I'm going to Smashing Conf.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: If you're-

Marcus Lillington: Yes, that was, yeah … It's the end of October, isn't it? No, I'm afraid our dates don't match, Paul.

Paul Boag: Aw.

Marcus Lillington: Next time I'm out is in November.

Paul Boag: If you are in the New York area or could be in the New York area inaudible 00:01:35

Marcus Lillington: inaudible 00:01:36.

Paul Boag: … come and join me at SmashingConf, SmashingConf.com. crosstalk 00:01:43

Marcus Lillington: The last one I went to was fantastic, I have to say.

Paul Boag: There's just a really good atmosphere. Some conferences have got it, some don't. Atmosphere and culture is really hard to manufacture.

Marcus Lillington: It helps being in Barcelona.

Paul Boag: Barcelona.

Marcus Lillington: Atmosphere and culture, the place exudes it. Apart from that Boag bloke, all the speakers were brilliant.

Paul Boag: I only get asked, because I'm a director of Smashing Magazine, so I've got an in.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, no, you were great, Paul. There was a couple that annoyed me a bit, just because they were sort of … It was like, they were like excited puppies.

Paul Boag: Oh, oh, enthusiastic, young people-

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: … there's nothing more annoying, is there?

Marcus Lillington: Ugh, but then, we had you and Jeremy Keith, and everything was brought back to-

Paul Boag: The bitter-

Marcus Lillington: … my kind of-

Paul Boag: … twisted-

Marcus Lillington: … level.

Paul Boag: Yeah, the bitter, twisted old men. Although, I have to confess, at the moment, I am a bit like an enthusiastic puppy. Because-

Marcus Lillington: I did notice … Yeah, I'd noticed that you've started doing design work again, Paul. Briefly, I saw that just for a second, because, obviously, I've been on holiday. But I was just flicking through stuff, and I thought, "Oh, Paul's doing design work. Oh, he's going to be all gushy about, 'Oh, the good old days, and I used to be good at this.'"

Paul Boag: No, do you know what? It turns out, I'm still half decent which was-

Marcus Lillington: Good on you.

Paul Boag: … a shock to the system.

Marcus Lillington: Good on you.

Paul Boag: No, obviously, it was a bit of a surprise, because this funny thing happens in your career that as you progress, you know this, Marcus, but as you progress in your career, and you move on, you tend to do less doing and more talking. I've been talking about all the principles of design, but I'm not actually sitting down creating the designs on a daily basis.

Marcus Lillington: I know.

Paul Boag: I was beginning to get a little bit worried about that. That's why I'm taking on a few design projects at the moment, just so that I can back into it.

I've discovered that I'm actually a much better designer now than I ever used to be before, because I've so embedded all of that design thinking and methodology and stuff in my brain that actually it comes out very intuitively now, so it's been really great.

I tell you, yeah, just to go back to the grumpy, old man thing, young people today don't know they're bloody born when it comes to design. Well, all these tools they've got now are just a pleasure to use, Sketch and InVision and Adobe XD and all of these different, they're just, from a-

Marcus Lillington: It does it for you, Paul, doesn't it?

Paul Boag: Well, no, it doesn't do, I wouldn't go that far, but it, it makes it so easy. Having things like symbols where you can replicate elements across a page easily and all of that kind of … I remember when we didn't even have layers in Photoshop for crying out loud. This is absolutely brilliant.

But, I'll tell you the other thing that I'm really enjoying is it's spending time designing mobile first.

Marcus Lillington: Okay.

Paul Boag: Absolutely, loving that. Because what has been so good about doing that, of course, I know about designing mobile first. I have done it before, but it reminds you of things, doesn't it? When you come back to it and do it again. It goes, oh, yeah, I knew that this was … Because you read articles on stuff on things like designing mobile first, it's all like, "Yes, that's the thing you should do, because it's easier to scale up a design than it is to scale down it."

That's not the reason why I love mobile first at all. The reason I love mobile first is it makes you think linearly, and it makes you think about the order at which people do stuff.

When you arrive, it's an e-commerce site that I'm working on at the moment, so when you arrive on an e-commerce site, what are the kind of things that are going through your head? When you first arrive on that site, you want to know, the first thing is am I, is this site relevant to me? Has it got what I need? Then you start asking questions about, is it expensive? Is it the right place to buy? All these kinds of questions go through your head.

Thinking about the order those questions happen dictates the order of the design and the visual hierarchy of the page. Being mobile-first forces you to think about that linear journey, and so when you then scale that up to desktop, it's so much easier, because you've got such a clear vision in your head about how it's all going to work together.

Yeah, as you can see, I'm really enjoying myself. Really, I just want this podcast over, so I can get back to it really.

Marcus Lillington: Well, that's fine by me.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: That's fine. That's great. We need to do the sponsors, just do them one after another. I'll do-

Paul Boag: To get them out of the way? crosstalk 00:07:04

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and-

Paul Boag: … and skip the rest.

Marcus Lillington: … one-liner joke, done.

Paul Boag: Yeah, okay, good.

Marcus Lillington: I think there's other content as well, isn't there?

Paul Boag: We got to do this Marcus thought for the day thing, haven't we?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: I like the look of this one actually.

Marcus Lillington: Do you?

Paul Boag: Is this a question you're sincerely asking yourself? Because your topic for the thought for the day is, do we really need an office? Are you actually asking yourself that?

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: Good. I know what I think.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, well, I know what I think as well. I've got it all written down in front of me.

Paul Boag: Go, go, go, let's hear about it, because it's a conversation I often have with the people that I mentor, the agencies I mentor about offices. Yeah, I'll be interested to hear what you got to say.

Marcus Lillington: Okay, yeah, it's something that we've been wrestling with over the summer, because our lease is coming up, and, frankly, we don't use it that much, even though it seems that every time we record this podcast on this season apart from one, I've been in the office. I am today. Excuse me.

Yeah, it's something we've been, "Pfft, do we really need it?" Anyway, I think that's us personally, but I think the wider question for everybody is, is it good/healthy for companies to exist 100% remotely, or are they better off with a space where they can meet and work?

Obviously, don't get me wrong at all, I love working at home. I always have done. I love it that Headscape's able to offer that to all the Headscape people.

I don't like this, the old-fashioned everyone has to be in the office all the time, because we the management don't trust you kind of thing.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: That's a thing of the past and not what I'm talking about here at all. Although, it does strike me that I think, yeah, when I was being a little bit facetious there with the we don't trust you thing, but it does, I think a lot of modern management does like everybody in, because they like being in.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: But, anyway, I'm going off on a tangent.

Paul Boag: Yes, focus, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, focus, focus. We offer home working. Two of our guys live a long way away. But we still have the central location where they can come and spend a couple of days every couple of weeks or so. Leigh is currently sat outside the door now. He comes in every two or three weeks I guess.

I wonder if that kind of thing wouldn't work as well if we didn't have any office space. Would I ever see Leigh? I know I would, but you know what I'm trying to say.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: I know that there, I'm getting right past all my excuses, I know that there are a number of teams and companies in the world that are completely remote. They seem to make it work.

Paul Boag: Yeah, a lot of them these days.

Marcus Lillington: I'm not saying remote is bad, I just think that having time together is a bonus. It's an extra, and it makes it even better.

Paul Boag: I would agree, but I'm going to disagree with you after you've done your bit. Go on, carry on.

Marcus Lillington: Okay. What I think it really boils down to, is this, I'm really keen on working face to face with clients. Sometimes-

Paul Boag: Agreed.

Marcus Lillington: … we can't, but I think it's much better-

Paul Boag: Yes.

Marcus Lillington: … when we can. I think it makes our projects more efficient. We understand things more deeply-

Paul Boag: Yes, yes.

Marcus Lillington: … and more quickly.

I think the same applies for colleagues. If we get together some of the time, then we get the same benefits rather than not getting together at all. My conclusion is, do we really need an office, one the size we've got here? Probably not, but we do need to get together regularly.

Paul Boag: Yes. Aw, you twisted it at the end. Damn you. I thought you were going to say, therefore, we need an office, and that I disagree with.

Get together regularly, yes, but why do you-

Marcus Lillington: I think we do-

Paul Boag: … need-

Marcus Lillington: … disagree.

Paul Boag: … an office?

Marcus Lillington: I think we do disagree, Paul. Because-

Paul Boag: Okay, good.

Marcus Lillington: … to get together, oh, let's all meet at the pub-

Paul Boag: No, no, no, no.

Marcus Lillington: … once a month.

Paul Boag: No, no, no, I'm not even saying that. No, no, no, no. I totally agree with your principle of we've got to work together. I think that's good.

But, you don't need an office to do that. Why couldn't I come and sit, well, not that I'd work with you anymore, but let's say I did, why couldn't I come and sit beside you at your house? Why couldn't you come and sit beside me at my place?

Marcus Lillington: You could do that, but it would be quite difficult for 10 people to do that.

Paul Boag: Yeah, all right. But how often does that happen? Let's say even it happened once a month or once every couple of months, then why can't you just hire a venue to do that?

Marcus Lillington: Because that's extra faff, and it becomes something, I think there is … Having a location that is yours, people get attached to that. It just doesn't need to be quite maybe a grand as the one we've got is my conclusion. Yes, we do disagree.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I think-

Marcus Lillington: That's good.

Paul Boag: … we do. No, no, absolutely. Also, I think a lot of the time that where you're going to be working together, the best place for you to be working together is actually on site with clients which you yourself just said-

Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Boag: … that it's good to work with clients. Well, if you're going to be doing, you want your designer and developer to sit together, then it would also be good if your content person was sitting with you who probably is working at the client's place, so go and work from their place.

Marcus Lillington: It's an as well.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I just think it's a big cost to a small agency, an office, and it's an unnecessary one in my opinion, so there. I bet Chris is pushing to get rid of it, is he?

Marcus Lillington: No. No, no.

Paul Boag: Oh, oh, okay.

Marcus Lillington: Watch this space.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I'll be interested to see what you decide on that.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, but it just made me think about the value of it, and it is … There's a lot of value in my opinion, and the fact that it isn't very often is fine.

But, it's just that from a monetary point of view, you start thinking, "Oh, I'm spending all this money, and we're not," we might get together two days a week, when you're thinking, "Well, we should be doing four days a week for that kind of money." But, actually, no, I just needed to talk my way through it.

Paul Boag: Also, the other thing just to argue with you more, you say it's a faff getting, if you needed to hire a meeting room for a day. It's a hell of a lot less faff than it is negotiating lease agreements and getting them to come in and repaint the wall when the roof leaks, which it did. It's less faff than having to get tea and coffee in the office the whole time. It's less faff than … There's a lot of faff that goes with running an office, Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, I'm still right though.

Paul Boag: You can't … That is not, that is not a position in an argument to go, "Yes, I agree with everything you're saying, but I'm right."

Marcus Lillington: No, I'm not agreeing with everything you're saying. I think that the value of having a location that's yours, it's almost connected to this hot-desking and having your own desk. There's a certain element of that to it. Which hot-desking I get it, yeah, there are certain benefits to it.

But, I think people like to have their own space that they can call their own. It makes them feel comfy, and I think it all comes down to this being able to work better and being more efficient and happier in their place and all that kind of stuff which the office gives you.

Paul Boag: Have you actually done a survey at Headscape to see whether other people agree with you, Marcus?

Marcus Lillington: I'm a benevolent dictator, as you well know.

Paul Boag: That is the heart of this problem here or this discussion is I think a lot of it comes down to character. I don't think it's anything to do with logical arguments at all. You've made your argument. I've made my argument.

I think it comes down to whether you're an extrovert or an introvert. I'm an introvert. I'm somebody who finds spending time with other people a draining experience. I'm not saying I don't like it, I do like being with other people, but it drains me of energy. I work far better when I can get my head down, and I can think things through by myself.

You, on the other hand, are a sociable person. You're an outgoing person. You're an extrovert. For you, it's much more, it makes much more sense to have an office. It's really interesting.

What about Paul's comment in the chat channel where he said, "It might be nice just for you guys to rent a small number of desks at a coworking space."

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah-

Paul Boag: What about something like that?

Marcus Lillington: … something like that would probably be kind of cool. It's just having that place where we regularly meet up, and I mean at least weekly-

Paul Boag: Right, okay.

Marcus Lillington: … at least weekly. But not all the bloody time, so it becomes a drudge.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It is interesting. The truth is there is no right answer. It is a cultural decision for a business, isn't it?

Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Boag: That every business is different. There have been very successful businesses that don't have a workspace. There have been very successful businesses that do. There's no right answer.

To be honest, although I say that oh, we don't need an office, I'm in a very luxurious position where I've got a very nice home working space which a lot of people do not have. Their office working space is the dining room table, and that is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. It does expect quite a lot of employees to have a dedicated space in their house for this kind of stuff.

Marcus Lillington: You've got a gold mirror behind you, Paul.

Paul Boag: I do have a gold mirror. It's all very swanky in my office these days since we've done the renovations.

Marcus Lillington: inaudible 00:17:24. My favorite place to work is my home office. It's just finding that balance anyway, enough said, enough said.

Paul Boag: Yes.

Marcus Lillington: Move on.

Paul Boag: Yes, let's talk about Balsamiq who is our sponsor for this season. I've been having a great time working with them on lots of different projects recently. The one that I've done most recent which I loved doing is I'm doing these UX reviews of people's websites, and it's really interesting.

The first one that I've done, I don't think it's been published yet, first one I've done, Marcus, is of a web agency site. All of your redesigning of the Headscape site was very relevant as I reviewed this other agency website.

Marcus Lillington: Cool.

Paul Boag: It was brilliant. It's really good fun. I hardly breathed the entire 20 odd minutes of me ranting uncontrollably about that.

That's going to be published soon. Actually, theirs was really nice, better than Headscape's.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag: Much better-

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag: … much, much, much better. If you'd like some feedback on your website, and please not just agency websites that will get really dull if I have to do lots of agency websites, but if you've got maybe a client website that you want me to review, or you work for an in-house team, and you'd like me to look at either, I'm not going to be able to cover the whole of your website, if you've got an in-house team, it's probably quite a big website. But if you want me to look at a landing page maybe for a campaign or a particular page that's troublemaking or a journey that's been proving issues or whatever else, then I'd love to do it.

Balsamiq are kindly paying for me to do that for you, free of charge. Yeah, strange people, I don't really understand them. I won't do anything that isn't for money, because I'm miserable like that. But they seem to be nice and kind. You can, you can submit a suggestion if you'd like me to review something for you at Balsamiq.com/learn/boagreview.

Marcus Lillington: Boag review.

Paul Boag: There you go. Exactly, right, so what are we going to be talking about this week? Well, we're going to be looking at the subject of trust and about how important it is to build trust with our users if we want them to act.

We're going to split it down into two parts, as we always do. We're going to look at why trust is so important in the first part, and then we're going to have a little look at how we go about encouraging trust in the second point. Well, in particular, we're going to be looking at social proof.

Okay, so we need to build trust. Any call to action on a website, any time you want a user to convert on a website, you effectively are having to … There is an element of risk to it. There's an element whereby they're either giving up personal data, they're giving up financial, there's a financial cost to it. There's a cost.

There has to be a degree of trust in that interaction. Trust if I give you my email address, you're not going to spam me or sell it to a third-party. Trust that if I give you lots of data about myself, you're not going to facebook me. That is now a verb to be facebooked. Trust that-

Marcus Lillington: It probably is actually.

Paul Boag: Yeah, probably.

Marcus Lillington: Do you think it's in the OED? Could be.

Paul Boag: It will get there before long, won't it?

Trust that if I give you money that you're actually going to deliver what you said you're going to deliver.

Fairly obviously, building a degree of trust is an important thing to do, and your website is a big part of achieving that. It's not the only part, by any means, but it is important. The reason that it's important is because of something called the halo effect.

The halo effect basically says that if you are going to, you will transfer one impression of one unrelated thing to another thing. For example, we tend to trust attractive people more than unattractive people. Because we see the attractiveness, and we, for no logical reason, therefore, conclude that they must be nice. That they must be trustworthy and give them lots of other positive attributes as well. It doesn't-

Marcus Lillington: Isn't-

Paul Boag: … make any sense.

Marcus Lillington: … it to do with biology? The ingrained sense of if someone's good-looking, then if I have children with them, then we're going to make better humans. All of that is ingrained into your brain?

Paul Boag: Yes, absolutely, but it applies not just to attractiveness. It applies to other qualities as well.

For example, if someone is articulate, you presume that they're more intelligent.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, yeah.

Paul Boag: Which isn't necessarily the case.

Marcus Lillington: Certainly, not, no.

Paul Boag: I've built a career off of that. I can bullshit well, but it doesn't mean I'm intelligent.

There are all kinds of these kinds of unrelated things where you see one characteristic, you warm to one characteristic, and that then makes you biased towards the person in lots of other characteristics.

But this doesn't just apply even to people. It also applies to things. For example, you could have, in theory, someone could create almost … Let's go back to Headscape actually and the Headscape website, and the way it was before.

You were talking about how the previous website was very jokey and had this jovial tone of voice, right?

Marcus Lillington: Yup.

Paul Boag: How that was probably a mistake, and, actually, you were right in that, because people will make a presumption that if your website has got that tone of voice, then so will the way you work. You might be a bit jokey. You're not particularly professional et cetera.

Now, the two aren't necessarily causal. There isn't necessarily a causal link between those two, but people will presume that there is, okay?

Marcus Lillington: We figured that you could get that across when you actually meet people.

Paul Boag: Exactly, yes. There's a time and a place, and all of that kind of thing. Being professional is really important with the website.

This is where I get on to very dodgy ground, because I'm not particularly professional. But one good example of that would be typos and grammar. I really am on very dodgy ground now. That if people see mistakes in your copy, then they may presume that you're equally slack in the other end, what you deliver.

Marcus Lillington: Guilty. Completely guilty.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: I think that, yes.

Paul Boag: Yes. That is all to do with the halo effect, and that is how you can end up undermining trust. If you're unprofessional in the way that you present yourself, if there's typo, if there's grammar, et cetera, then those are really big things that will affect how people perceive you, even down to the design that you choose, et cetera.

We know all this. This is the psychology behind why design and grammar and things like that matter. But, that is not the only way you build trust. It's not just about the halo effect. There are other characteristics involved as well.

Another one is about how you communicate. Communication is a very key element when it comes to trust. Because if there's a lack of communication, people feel out of control, and when people feel out of control, they feel that you're holding back on them, and that undermines trust.

I could give you a great example of that. I was once flying, I can't remember where I was flying. I was flying somewhere. I got snowed in at the airport. We landed, got snowed in. This wasn't the one at South Bay 00:26:23, Marcus, when I was with you, this was another occasion.

We got snowed in at some airport somewhere. Every plane was grounded across the whole of the airport. Nobody was going in, nobody was going out. We were all stuck.

I was flying with British Airways. You went to the information desk for British Airways, and then I was just hanging around like you do in airports. I ended up sitting on a bench opposite the British Airways check-in desk.

Next to the British Airways or information desk, next to the British Airways information desk, there was an American Airlines desk. The contrast between those two desk could not have been more extreme.

In front of the British Airways desk, there were a few people that were just vaguely hanging around and not really doing very much and waiting really. In front of the American Airlines desk, there were angry people.

Now, my immediate xenophobic reaction was, "Well, Americans, they get wound up about everything. They don't have a stiff upper lip." But, actually, of course-

Marcus Lillington: "Get rid of the snow."

Paul Boag: Yes, inaudible 00:27:41. But, of course, that wasn't it at all, because both flights had a mix of different people from different nationalities.

What it turned out to be was how those different staff members were communicating with people. You had the British Airways person … Well, both of them had come out at the beginning, American Airlines and British Airways and said, "I'm sorry, all the flights have been grounded." But, it was what they did after that that made a difference.

The American Airlines person said, "I will come back to you when we've got more information." The British Airlines person said, "We will give you an update every 10 minutes." The British Airways person was constantly coming back and saying, "I've got nothing new to tell you. We're still grounded. We're still talking to air traffic control, da-da da-da duh."

The American Airlines person didn't arrive back. People didn't feel in control. They didn't feel they were being communicated to behind the American Airlines.

This is such an important thing. We really need to think about how we communicate if we want to build trust in relationship to email communications that we send out to our clients or our customers or whoever they are. If you've got an e-commerce site, what are those emails that you send out when somebody has placed an order. Do you let them know about their delivery information? Do you let them know when it's been dispatched, et cetera?

If you run a web design agency, how do you communicate with people through the tendering process? How often do you engage with them? How do you engage with them? When you win the work how do you contact them?

The biggest mistake I see web design agencies making all the time is they only communicate with the client when they've got something new to show. As a result, the client's left hanging, going, "Is my project progressing. Is something happening? Are we still on track?" They just don't know. Communication is a really important factor when it comes to building trust.

Very closely related to that is the thing of transparency as well. Being open and honest about your mistakes and when things go wrong. Again, web design agencies are a classic example of organizations that make mistakes with this.

One of the things you see all the time is, "Ooh, I don't think we're going to make the deadline. It's got a bit more complicated. Right, it's looking a bit dodgy." "No, we can do this. We'll buckle down together as a team, and we'll make it happen." "Ooh, it's looking even more … " "Well, if we work through the weekend, it will be all right. We'll get it done." Then you miss the deadline, and it's like, suddenly, you then tell the client that you've missed the deadline.

Instead, you're much better off going to them early and saying, "Well, we think, we're going to work weekends, and we're going to work evenings to get this done, but there is a small chance that we might not be able to." Because then, you're only going to exceed their expectations after that point rather than let them down. There's another great example of being open and transparent.

Flickr is another good example. Flickr, in the early days of Flickr, they had huge server problems. They actually lost some people's photographs. A typical big corporate company these days would send out a half-hearted apology, wouldn't they? It would be, "We're very sorry that this happened to our customers, but these things were beyond our control, and blah, blah, blah, and-

Marcus Lillington: "It's all your fault."

Paul Boag: Yeah, somehow, because their lawyers would get involved, wouldn't they?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: Oh, no, you can't admit liability, so you have to do this inaudible 00:31:31.

Instead, Flickr wrote this post entitled, Sometimes We Suck, which basically said, "Hands up, we messed up. It was terrible. This is how we're going to fix it. This is how we're going to make it up to you." That kind of transparency goes such a long a way to building trust with a company and with a brand

Another company that's a really good example of this is Buffer. Buffer, they're just insane what they do. They publish absolutely everything about their company publicly. Everything from their roadmap all the way to their employee's salaries, they post online. The whole lot is laid out there.

I tell you what. You don't half trust that company, because you know everything is there. It's completely open. It's completely transparent. You know where their income is coming.

Here's the interesting thing. I've never read any of it, but I know it's there. I know they're being open and transparent, and so I trust them as a result.

There may be a little bit of a cynical part in the back of my brain that may be says, "Maybe all this stuff just goes, blah, blah, blah, it doesn't actually say anything, or maybe it's all lies, but-

Marcus Lillington: Two good first paragraphs, and then it's just, it's lorem ipsum.

Paul Boag: Yeah. It's like in those heist movies where the case of money is just money on the top, and then it's the newspaper underneath. It could be like that.

But no, that's how you build trust with people is open communication, transparency, honesty, and that kind of attention to detail.

But in a minute, we're going to get into a probably one of the most important areas of trust which is going to be social proof.

But, before we do that, let's just take a moment and talk about FullStory. I've been having fun recently. I've been, I've got this master class that's related to this course. I've been-

Marcus Lillington: Have you?

Paul Boag: I know. I haven't mentioned it, have I? I've been doing all kinds of experiments. It's my sandbox where I can experiment on stuff and apply some of the techniques that I don't necessarily get to apply with clients. I've been optimizing the page a lot. I've been playing with different pricing structures and trying to work it all out. I've been using some really great tools.

There's a really good tool that I've discovered recently called OptinMonster which allows you to do in, those annoying overlays that I don't really use very much, in order to grab people's attention. But it also allows you to do slide overs and all kinds of different things. That's really cool, but that's not what I'm talking about.

The other thing that I've been doing is running FullStory on it, so I can actually monitor what people are doing on the landing page, what they're interacting with. I've learnt so much from doing it. For example, I've learned that I need to improve the video.

I had a video that I was running, and people were watching the video and then leaving.

Marcus Lillington: Oops.

Paul Boag: Which is probably not a good sign. I know what it was.

Marcus Lillington: Have you removed it completely?

Paul Boag: No, no, no.

Marcus Lillington: All pictures of yourself.

Paul Boag: Yeah. They take one look at me and go, "There's no way, I'm going to listen to that guy for four and a half hours."

No, the problem with the video is it was too much of my personality which always puts people off. No, because a lot of the people that hit that page don't know me, and so towards the end of the video, I get a bit sarcastic and a bit tongue in cheek. I don't think that was going over very well.

I've replaced the video, and it's actually caused quite a spike in conversion. I would have only learnt that through FullStory. Because if I just looked at analytics, that wouldn't have come out, because you wouldn't have been able to see that people were playing the video.

If I'd done it in usability testing, there's no way a usability test person would have said to me, "No, that was a really shit video of you, Paul. You were terrible."

Marcus Lillington: Good point.

Paul Boag: It's not going to happen, is it? But real users interacting with your site in real time was really interesting. I learnt loads from using FullStory on that.

Now, it's still early days, and I'm still playing around with it, but, already, FullStory has been an invaluable tool. I really recommend you just give it a go on your own website. Pick a landing page and try it out on a landing page on your website.

You can sign up, and you can get a month of their pro account for free, no need to enter a credit card. At the end of that month, really, if you're just using it on a landing page, and your landing page doesn't get more than a thousand sessions per month, which mine doesn't, then you can continue to use it for free forever. It's only once you get over a thousand sessions per month you have to start paying, which is fair enough. They have to make their money, don't they?

You can sign up for that by going to FullStory.com/boag, so there you go.

Marcus Lillington: Cool.

Paul Boag: Marcus, you looked like you were writing things furiously there. Was I inspiring you?

Marcus Lillington: Reminding me that I need to get stuff set up on a new client's site-

Paul Boag: Oh.

Marcus Lillington: … and possibly FullStory being one of them.

Paul Boag: Yes, absolutely.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, you were reminding me, Paul.

Paul Boag: Oh, there you go. See I was inspiring you, Marcus. I'm so inspirational.

Anyway, what's next? Let's talk about social proof. Talking of trust and also talking about the design stuff that I'm doing at the moment for this e-commerce client, social proof is such an important thing when it comes to building trust with clients, ratings, reviews, testimonials, celebrity endorsements.

Do you remember when we did Wiltshire Farm Foods, and they had Ronnie Corbett as their spokesman? Always amuses me, but it works. This kind of stuff makes a big difference.

Why? Why? Why does social proof actually work? What's the thought behind it?

We're lazy basically. People are inherently lazy. We don't like to think. We don't like to make effort. It's often, I've done it before. You go to somewhere like Hammerson, and it's like, "Okay, I need to buy, I don't know, something boring like, I don't know, a new mouse or-

Marcus Lillington: That's perfect. That kind of ratings of other people for something like a mouse are brilliant.

It's just, it was interesting you saying that we're lazy. Because other ratings for things like restaurants and holidays just really hack me off. Because I start reading them, because you can't stop yourself, can you?

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: You go, "I'm looking to spend a lot of money to go on holiday somewhere," and you start reading it, and then I just end up thinking everyone's an idiot. "Well, that's not how, surely, that's not how it actually is. You're just biased in the wrong ways. You're just a complainer, blah, blah, blah, blah."

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: It's because it's making me work, isn't it? That's the thing.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Because I just want to be lazy, and go, "Yes, everyone loves it. I'm going to tick the box and move on." I've learnt something.

Paul Boag: Something like a mouse is particularly good, because a mouse, it's not really that important a purchase. Some people are really fussy about, I'll now get tons of tweets, of people going, "Our mouse is really important for ergonomics," or whatever. I don't know whatever.

A charging thing for your iPhone then, whatever, but something relatively trivial. It's like, "I can't be bothered to put mental effort into this. Which one gets rated the highest, I'll have that."

Marcus Lillington: Yep.

Paul Boag: That's what you do, isn't it? We're inherently lazy when it comes to that.

Then, of course, but there are other aspects of it. That doesn't explain why celebrity endorsements work, for example. But that's about I want to be more like so-and-so, and so, I'm heavily influenced by what it is that they're promoting.

But, it's not even just that sometimes, because nobody's willing to admit that they're that superficial, but you are. But there's also the element of, "Well, I respect celebrity so-and-so, so if they recommend something I trust it." Or there's that other element of, "I respect celebrity so-and-so and know that they wouldn't just put their name against anything."

If Stephen Fry says something's good, I'll probably trust that. Because there's a little bit of me that wants to be a bit like Stephen Fry, but I also know that he wouldn't put his name against shit, and he has a certain brand, and there are certain kinds of things he associates himself with. It's that kind of thing that's at play as well.

Then the final thing, related to that, because, of course, celebrity, it's not just about celebrities, it's also about authority figures. "Nine out 10 dentists say they use Sensodyne toothpaste."

Marcus Lillington: Nobody believes that though.

Paul Boag: No. No, nobody believes it. But that principle of where there is an authority figure, so a better example would be someone like me, right?

Marcus Lillington: Oh, you see, I was just, well, I just, I made it happen, didn't I? You had to come up with another example.

Paul Boag: Yeah, then, of course-

Marcus Lillington: I fell-

Paul Boag: … being the-

Marcus Lillington: … into the trap.

Paul Boag: … egotistical maniac that I am I had to refer to myself.

But, yeah, all right then, someone like Jeremy Keith, let's not talk about me. Jeremy Keith is far more trustworthy than I am. If he says something, you know he knows his stuff. You know that he knows what he's talking about. You tend to trust him more. That's a bit different from celebrity, because that's …

It's like we've all got a mate. Let's say you're buying a camera. We've all got a mate that is into photography, okay? That-

Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Boag: … knows their camera stuff, so we all go to our mate that knows about cameras. There are those kinds of figures, aren't there?

What's that guy, that financial advisor guy that's always on the TV in the U.K. here? Martin Wallace, no, Martin, no, anyway. There's some guy that always is talking about, Martin Lewis, thank you-

Marcus Lillington: That's who it is.

Paul Boag: … Andrew, in the chat room.

Yeah, Martin Lewis, great example, is he a celebrity? Well, kind of, but, really, he's an influencer. These YouTube people as well that do reviews and things like that.

Marcus Lillington: Whenever anyone wants to buy any sort of musical instrument, they ask my opinion on it.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: It's like some things that I've never even picked one up.

Paul Boag: But I bet you expressed an opinion anyway.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, and always if anybody wants to buy a guitar, which is my first instrument, they always end up going, "What's he talking about?"

Paul Boag: Yeah. Or, "There's no way I'm spending that amount of money on a guitar."

Marcus Lillington: Exactly, so, yeah, it's such a waste of time.

Paul Boag: Then, of course, the final thing is that we favor people like ourselves. I would tend to rate the reviews of my own friends over maybe the reviews of some complete stranger.

You can do some really nice things that I've seen done before like on Etsy, they used to do it. I don't know whether they still do it. But you used to be able to log in with Facebook, and it would talk about the things that your friends on Facebook have bought via Etsy, which I thought was very clever.

Marcus Lillington: Probably not allowed to do that anymore.

Paul Boag: Probably not, no.

Anyway, but there is a problem with social proof, and it's a growing problem with social proof that I think, Marcus, you already mentioned in passing at one point, which is that we've all become cynical buggers and don't believe half this stuff, right?

Marcus Lillington: With good reason.

Paul Boag: Yeah. Absolutely, you feel, I was looking through this site, the e-commerce site I'm redesigning at the moment. I was looking down their product listings, and every single one of their product listings had one rating and exactly the same value on the rating.

Marcus Lillington: Hmm.

Paul Boag: Yeah, that's real. Exactly. I need to have words with them about that. We've all become cynical haven't we about these things.

How can we overcome that, that cynicism? Well, number one is you can use the Amazon approach which is to overwhelm people with numbers. If something's got 500 reviews on it, you're less likely to consider it to be suspicious than if it's got one review on.

Marcus Lillington: Dead right.

Paul Boag: Okay?

Marcus Lillington: Yep.

Paul Boag: But, obviously, we can't all do that. We haven't all got the scale of Amazon. But, if you're maybe talking about testimonials as a web design agency, if you can put a dozen testimonials in there, rather than one or two, it's going to seem more trustworthy.

Also, the other mistake that I see people making is they remove negative reviews. That is the worst thing you can do. If all of your reviews are glowingly positive, people become cynical. You need one or two negative ones in the mix as well in order to show that you're not heavily censoring it. Don't remove negative reviews.

The other one is where possible, if you're going to include a testimonial, include the source of that testimonial, and, ideally, a source that people can go and look up. It might be, "Paul Boag is the best user experience designer I've ever had the privilege to work with. Marcus Lillingtonillington@marcus67."

Marcus Lillington: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Paul Boag: Then click through to the tweet where Marcus actually says that on Twitter. That's a lot more powerful. Marcus, you let me get away with that quote from you there without any comment at all, so you-

Marcus Lillington: Sorry.

Paul Boag: … must believe it.

Marcus Lillington: I was reading other stuff. The distraction of the chat room helped you out there, Paul.

Paul Boag: Oh, good, good. That makes a change.

Marcus Lillington: I've got no idea what you said.

Paul Boag: No, it's good. I said that you referred to me as the best user experience designer you've ever had the pleasure to work with.

Marcus Lillington: My exact words I believe, Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah, exactly. That's what I thought, so social media being able to link back to social media is really good.

The other thing is if you can use photos and videos, show the person. Preferably, videos is obviously better than photographs, but be very careful when you do this. Make sure, now this is going to sound so stupid, because earlier I was talking about professionalism relates to trust. Make sure the photos and the video isn't too good. If the video and the photos look too slick, they look like it's been put on, and it doesn't look real and sincere.

Doing video testimonials with a shitty iPhone, a hand-held iPhone video, that's actually really good on a website, because it's, as Paul's just said in the chat room, it's authentic. Try and make sure these things are authentic wherever possible.

Marcus Lillington: Although, we're talking here about making, when you do a testimonial like this, make sure that you do it on a shitty phone to make it look authentic.

Paul Boag: Yes.

Marcus Lillington: Do you see what I mean?

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Therefore, it isn't authentic.

Paul Boag: Yeah, but, I'll tell you the other … But the other thing, I have watched videos of testimonials before where I don't know whether or not this is true, but either the people in the videos are actors, or they're reading off an autocue. Because there's no ums and ahs. There's no stumbles. There's no …

You can watch a video, even if it's nicely shot, as Andrew says, "We should be avoiding the iPhone XS, because it's too good quality." But even if it's beautifully shot on an iPhone XS with a tripod and nice lighting and all the rest of it, if it's a real person in that video, you can tell, because they go, "Um," or, they're not looking at the camera, or they've got a spot on their face. You can tell a real person, can't you? Do make a point of making these things as authentic as possible.

Okay, I think that's pretty much all I wanted to say about that really.

Marcus Lillington: Cool.

Paul Boag: That social proof is a really important thing. It's something that you should be looking at, and this whole idea of building trust is so amazingly important.


Marcus Lillington: Yes?

Paul Boag: … do you have a joke for us-

Marcus Lillington: I do.

Paul Boag: … to wrap the show up?

Marcus Lillington: This one's from Chris Wright, and I particularly like this one.

Paul Boag: Okay.

Marcus Lillington: I got a pet newt. I named him, Tiny, because he's my newt.

Paul Boag: I quite like that one. That's quite nice fun. This is really good.

Marcus Lillington: That's good. Thank you, Chris.

Paul Boag: You've definitely, you have definitely found your style now after, what is it? 22-

Marcus Lillington: A hundred years.

Paul Boag: … seasons.

Marcus Lillington: At least a hundred years we've been doing this.

Paul Boag: Exactly. You've got those Dad puns down to a fine art now.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, they're my-

Paul Boag: Okay.

Marcus Lillington: … favorite.

Paul Boag: They are. Yeah, they just work, don't they?

All right, thank you very much for listening to this week's show. I hope that you've got some useful takeaways from it. If you want to find out more about the master class, you can find it by going to boagworld.com/masterclass.

Otherwise, I will speak to you again, well, we will speak to you again next week. But, until then, thanks for listening.

Thanks to Olivier Le Moal from Shutterstock for allowing me to use this image.