[ISN] Study Tracks 'Trust' In Web Design

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Jan 30 1999 - 01:33:54 PST

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    Study Tracks 'Trust' In Web Design
    By Connie Guglielmo
    January 25, 1999 12:20 PM ET
    Clement Mok knows how to create designs with perfect visual appeal. But he
    admits he was momentarily stumped last year when a client asked him to
    design a commerce Web site that not only was secure, but looked secure. 
    "What does security look like? Is it a silly lock and key?" asks Mok, a
    longtime graphics designer who rose to prominence with his multicolored
    rainbow logo and other images for Apple Computer. "The more we studied it,
    the more we realized it has to do with security issues, navigation issues. 
    It was no longer a simple thing to know where to put privacy statements
    and assurances of trust." 
    That uncertainty led Mok, chief creative officer of Web design firm Studio
    Archetype/Sapient, to team up with market research firm Cheskin Research. 
    The goal: to find out what design and other elements of a Web site
    "communicate" a sense of trust to users. The result: the eCommerce Trust
    Study, which was released this month. 
    After having consumers, industry insiders and analysts examine 102
    high-profile commerce, publishing and portal sites, Cheskin and Studio
    Archetype found that while a brand name can be helpful in drawing
    consumers to a site, brand alone does not guarantee trust. Of the 12 sites
    users identified as the most trusted brand names on the Web, seven are
    Web-only companies with no retail presence in what Mok calls the "dirt
    world." The most trustworthy sites are those of: Amazon.com, Blockbuster
    Video, Borders Group, Dell Computer, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Microsoft's
    Internet Explorer, Netscape Communications, USA Today, Wal-Mart and
    "Never assume that the power of a well-known brand in the digital space is
    all-encompassing. That brand can be debunked very quickly with a poorly
    implemented site," Mok says. "We went in with some assumptions, that the
    trusted brand in the dirt world consumers would probably trust in the
    digital world. But while they would trust it enough to get through the
    trial and presentation, the user experience has to be validated beyond
    that first impression. The loop needs to be closed with fulfillment." 
    What really counts is establishing a proven track record on the Web and
    offering consumers a site that is efficient and easy to navigate. "It's
    all about reliability and execution. The stronger the execution, the
    quicker you are able to establish a brand on the Internet," Mok says. 
    Consumers, it seems, agree. In a recent study of holiday shoppers, Jupiter
    Communications and NFO Interactive found an alarmingly low 37 percent of
    online shoppers indicated they would spend more money online next holiday
    season, while 58 percent said they would spend the same, and 5 percent
    said they would spend less. Though consumers spent about $3.14 billion in
    November 1998 and December 1998 - a record quarter - not all consumers
    were satisfied with the experience. Online shoppers cited problems with
    merchandise availability (15 percent), the additional costs of shipping
    and handling (14 percent) and slow site performance (13 percent) as the
    top three reasons for dissatisfaction. 
    Jupiter says dissatisfaction has to do, in part, with the fact that
    mass-market consumers are less forgiving of technical glitches. 
    Those surveyed by Studio Archetype and Cheskin said they are looking for
    sites that offer convenience, ease of use, good prices and great product
    selection. So, how do retailers communicate that they offer all those
    things and provide a trusted place to do business? The study found that
    trustworthiness is built on a combination of six factors: brand; effective
    navigation; fulfillment, which refers to how orders are processed and
    includes information on how to return items if a problem occurs; 
    presentation, including design; use of up-to-date technology; and seals of
    approval from security-guaranteeing firms, such as credit card companies
    and encryption and security providers. 
    But while credit card logos may be the most familiar symbols to consumers,
    Mok says he was surprised to learn that those well-known brands did little
    to inspire consumers' trust in the sites they adorn. Instead, Mok says,
    the surveys show that retailers are better off using the symbols for
    VeriSign, BBB Online, TRUSTe and other Web-based security brands than
    credit cards.  Even better is using terms with which more and more
    consumers are familiar, such as "encryption" and "privacy." 
    "It's the combination of brand and navigation that are the most powerful," 
    says Davis Masten, a principal at Cheskin Research. "Ideally it's about
    having a brand essence and brand personality that people can identify as
    unique to you." 
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