A UX Introduction to Gaining Trust

A pet peeve of mine is websites asking me to sign up with them before I get to see their website.

It probably infuriates me more than it should, but still… The cheek of it! 

Imagine going to the supermarket and security stop you before entering, insisting that they need your personal details before you can come in. 

You would demand to know why they need your details. What are they going to use them for? 

You were only popping in for some piccalilli and the security guard won’t even tell you if they sell piccalilli. You’d feel uncertain and apprehensive. 

Why would you shop there? 

Secret Escapes is a site that I should visit regularly. I love my holidays and especially enjoy staying somewhere unique and memorable (especially if it’s a bargain to boot!).

Secret Escapes also happens to be one of those sites that ask you to give over your information before you can see anything. For that very reason, I browse elsewhere when looking for holidays. 

After all, there are plenty of sites out there offering the same without demanding my personal information first.

Website with pop up requesting personal details

As far as I’m concerned, login walls are intrusive. But why do they make me feel so uncomfortable? 

I’ve signed up and given my details over to countless other websites. 

Ultimately, it’s down to the fact that they are asking for my information before gaining my trust. 

I can’t judge that I will benefit from handing over my details. I don’t know if they have what I want. 

The thing is – if they were a site that enabled me to browse before asking me to sign up, then I’d happily sign up! 

Login walls place all the effort onto the user. Users must remember their login details or, for first time visitors, take the time to actually go through the sign up process. 

Sites that provide banking, email, management or personal services like Trello, are justified in requiring a login step to prevent your personal information being insecure. 

But, if you’re just trying to sell me something, don’t be cheeky and ask me for my information! 

You’re simply asking for too much, too soon.

What is Trust? 

In any personal relationship, whether it’s between two friends, lovers, or even between website and user – a person must have their trust needs met before being able to progress. 

In the case of friends, you wouldn’t progress a new friendship with a stranger five minutes into meeting them. You couldn’t just ask them to go on a weekend away straight away. You’d need a chance to know them and trust them first. 

There are key attributes a site must convey before user trust can be achieved:

Is the Company Legitimate? 

Trust comes from the belief that the company is moral and law-abiding. If it’s asking for personal information, is the site secure? 

Security and privacy are a must. 

Does the Product or Service Do What It Claims? 

This can be aided through testimonials or reviews.

If it’s a payable service, providing a free trial would promote trust. 

It’s also demonstrated through a working website. If you have broken links, distrust will set in. 

Is the Information Correct and Easy to Understand? 

If the user can understand what you’re trying to convey, they will not feel the urge to look elsewhere. 

If by using jargon, un-scannable walls of text, or misspelt words – a user is going to feel uneasy.

You’re simply asking for too much, too soon.

Design Quality

It takes a matter of seconds for a user to decide whether they stay or leave at the first moment they access your site. 

One study even found that users make an initial valuation of a site in as little as 50 milliseconds.

To ensure a user stays on your site, you must convey what your service and product is about at a glance. That you are a legitimate company. 

Your users must have a positive impression of the visual design of the page and that the information they need is clearly accessed. 

This seems like a pretty big milestone to get right within a matter of seconds, but you should bear in mind the following components if you want to accomplish this in the long run…

Visual Design

What is a well-designed website? 

The look and feel of this comes in trends. 

A teenager will have a completely different opinion on a design compared to an OAP. They both have different wants and needs. 

Ultimately, through the different trends and the different users, there is still consistent design styles that convey a quality design:

  • A clean, uncluttered design – show the user that there are experts behind this site and that it hasn’t been built by an amateur. 
  • Easy to navigate – don’t hide your content from the user. It seems suspicious to do so. 
  • Buttons are labelled correctly – don’t make the user think twice. They should be confident in what each button is for. 
  • Consistent design – if your primary button on the homepage is green, all subsequent primary buttons on other pages should be green also.
  • Images must be of a high-quality – show me a blurry photo of your product, and I won’t want to buy it. 
  • Readable fonts are a must – why must you make it harder for the user to read your content? 

One of the major elements judged by a user in terms of design quality is a lack of attention to detail. 

Does the site have typos, broken links and other mistakes? 

This will negatively affect the user’s impression of the quality of the site instantly. 


Would you trust someone who’s hiding something from you? Nope! 

Then why should a user trust a website that is hiding behind a login wall? 

Whatever your site is offering, you can bet there is another site just a click away that offers something similar. You need to ensure the user on your site decides to stay – and through transparency, trust will be gained. 

Luckily, it’s quite easy to be transparent if you are a reputable business… 

  • Clearly display your contact information – if I can’t find it in a matter of seconds, I will distrust you. 
  • Clear information – a user shouldn’t have to investigate the price of a product, or how long it will take to ship them. This is fundamental information that they expect before purchasing, so why would you hide it? 
  • If personal information is required, then explain why you need it – are you asking for their phone number solely to arrange a delivery? If so, tell them! Inform them that it won’t be used for sales calls. 
  • Don’t take a users’ card details for a free trial – or at the very least, email them before the free trial ends. 

Ultimately, don’t try and trick your users. Don’t force users to do something that stops them from having a pleasant user experience, and don’t employ shady business growth techniques at the expense of your own customer’s comfort.

Relevant Content 

Users appreciate sites that provide a lot of relevant content. It shows that the company is putting the customer first. 

Express Ads from Jellyfish provides a large blog offering, detailing information from How to Improve Conversions to The Importance of Image Based Content.

Image of Express Ads website for information on improving your website and ads

As a company, we have a lot of expertise and we enjoy sharing our knowledge with our users. 

Research has shown time and time again that if you provide useful information, users will seek out your site over others. 

For example, if presented with two cleaning companies – users will prefer the site providing hints and tips for cleaning your oven, over the site which doesn’t provide any advice (even though hypothetically speaking, none of the users actually wished to clean their oven). 

Be Connected

How would you feel if you landed on a site which was in complete isolation from the rest of the internet? 

It has no presence on social media, it wasn’t on any review websites. It would come across as them having something to hide, or they’re not established in any way. 

Users can be distrustful of sites or services that aren’t recommended by family or friends, or at the least – other people on the internet. 

You only need to quickly visit a local community group on Facebook to find many requests asking for recommendations for plumbers, taxi companies, gardeners etc… 

People like to be reassured and use services which have been recommended. Linking to these outside sources on your site will help your users feel confident about your service. 

Trust is Hard to Achieve and Easy to Lose

Users should NEVER be forced to make a decision that they are nor prepared for, or (through a lack of information) not able to make. 

That is why I hate login walls as they demand users to make decisions without providing the information they need to suitably evaluate. They don’t even strive for trust. 

Trust is essential to the users’ willingness to risk time, money and personal information on a site. 

Some might argue – “we didn’t get that many sign-ups before we implemented the login wall.” 

That might be true, but there is something glaringly obvious about that statement. 

Either your product or service isn’t working for your customers, or you’re attracting the wrong users. Basically, don’t hide the flaw of your offerings behind Dark UX