When designing software and providing help for software products, it is very important to build trust while onboarding users.
What is trust and why do we need it?
By definition, trust means "an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something". Or "one in which confidence is placed". (Source: Merriam-Webster). Why is this important? If users lose trust, they don't have the confidence to work with the company or their software. They won't trust the help provided in the app and on the help portal.
Trust is an essential part of any healthy relationship. Even the relationship between customers and their users. It takes time to build trust. When trust is gone, it's hard to build it back up again.
Companies that lost trust
Product packagingLet's think of a few companies that lost consumer trust. Maybe it wasn't directly the company's fault, but users lost trust. A famous drug company produced medicine that was laced with a toxic chemical and several users unexpectedly died. What did that lead to? More secure containers, so you could tell the medicine was tampered with.
Poor food handling
What about a big chain restaurant that had tainted spinach that caused an outbreak of E.coli? Sorry, but I won't eat there again. And one more, And a phone manufacturer that had phones exploding because of a battery malfunction. Ouch!
As we can see, if you lose your users' trust, you may never get it back!
Content strategy is important when designing software or writing help for users. What does that mean? It means thinking about "planning for creating, delivering, and managing useful, usable, and effective content about a particular topic or set of topics." (Source: Nielsen Norman Group).
A great example of a company that builds trust with their products and help is Airbnb. When you land on their website, it gives you a feeling that they know what they're talking about. Just for starters, it took me forever to log in with all the 2-factor authentication. It's me, really!! They tell you about host guarantees, secure payments, and trust and safety policies.
When you select an Airbnb, they gain your trust with reviews, descriptions, a generous cancelation policy, and Super host status. Their Support options at the bottom of the page give you a feeling of confidence. Like they care about me. They even have a help article about How Airbnb builds trust between Hosts and guests.
Airbnb builds trust
Their Help Center let's you easily find and navigate the help articles to get to the information you need.
Airbnb Help Center
Ever since we had nothing to write off and our taxes became fairly simple to manage, I've been using Turbo Tax online software for many years. Filing your taxes and dealing with the US Government can be a daunting task. If I do something wrong while filing, I could go to jail or have a huge fine. I have no idea what I'm doing. But Turbo Tax guides you through it with their software and help. They answer your questions and guide you through everything you need to do. You file with confidence. I've been using this software for over 10 years. Now I'm even doing my parent's taxes (for free!) since they are senior citizens. How nice!
They build trust with helpful info like:
Reassuring Error Messages
Made a mistake? It's ok.
Turbo Tax messages help users get back on task
Where do I start?
Turbo tax help you get started on your taxes with a few easy questions and friendly graphics.
Turbo Tax quickly onboards users
You know the job is done with this message.
Turbo Tax confirms success
How does SAP build trust?
The name SAP has a long reputation of trust and awesomely delightful products. Visit sap.com for a glimpse at how we build trust. Award-winning enterprise software, best in class SAP Help Portal content, and customer stories telling why the world trusts SAP.
SAP software includes embedded, in-app help for users to intuitive use the software with minimal to no onboarding required. Fiori in-app help gets you to the help you need without much effort. And in the near future, AI will help you get to what you need even faster! SAP for Me, your digital companion to easily interact with SAP is another example. Everything you need in a central location. Get assistance where and when you need it.
SAP for Me get assistance
The SAP Help Portal has a wealth of information on tons of SAP products, onboarding, integration, setup, product assistance, videos, and much more. Find the information you need quickly and easily using the various filters and advanced search. Our goal is to ensure user trust and get users up and running as fast as possible. You can even find many documents translated into several languages.
SAP Help Portal search
Filled with tons of helpful information on our SAP products, services and support, learning opportunities, SAP Community, and much more.
So, what now?
As you can see, we value our users and work diligently to build and maintain their trust. Getting the right content to the right users at the right time, is crucial to our success. Our goal is to be honest, communicate clearly, and protect our users.
Here are some tips for ensuring that you earn your users' trust.
Give users a chance to communicate with you, provide feedback, ask questions, and collaborate. The SAP Help Portal asks users if a page is useful, where users can provide feedback to help us improve the documentation.
We take this feedback seriously and constantly strive to give users what they need.
Get feedback from users
Find out if your help content is useful. What's missing?
Asks users for feedback on content
Collaborate with users
Collaboration: Coming soon!
(Coming soon) We'll even have a way for two-way conversations between SAP users and experts by leaving comments on a Help Portal page.
Give users help using your software or navigating your website. Let them report issues they're having and lead them to more information. The SAP Help Portal has Ask a question about the SAP Help Portal at the bottom of the page where users can get learn how to use the SAP Help Portal and solve various issues.
Learn more about SAP Help Portal
Show users when something in the website or software changed or there's a new feature. For example, when we added Subscribe to What's New product content, we showed a popover with more info and a short video on how to subscribe.
In-app help for subscribing to What's New pageIn-app help for PDF feature
Make navigation easy to..... well, navigate. Don't bury content in your content structure that the user can't easily find it. Show breadcrumbs, navigation buttons, and other markers to let users know where they are in the application (or website) hierarchy. Include an intelligent search for users to find the content they need. We use breadcrumbs on the SAP Help Portal pages and in SAP products.
Breadcrumbs: the user can quickly go back to any place in the structure.
On this page: show users what's on the page, so they can quickly skip to the content.
Jump to topics
Favorites: Users can save their favorite pages and products on the SAP Help Portal so they can easily find them on their Home page when they return.
Show error and success messages
Tell users when they're successful at completing an action. Also, when there's an error, help them resolve it. Don't just say "Error 129398" with an OK button, because it's not OK. Tell them why they are getting this error and what they can do about it.
Success Message: tells the user that their action was successfully completed.
Success messageIn-app help
Error Message: tells the user what the problem is and how to fix it. Links the user to where the error is, so they can easily enter the missing information.
Error and solution
SAP Help Portal page not found message
Don't just say "404 Oopsie, page not found". That's not helpful to a user. Users don't know what 404 or 403 messages are. Why would they? Give them a path to find a solution.
SAP Help Portal latest version message
The SAP Help Portal lets the user navigate back to the Home page. In some cases, it finds another version of the page to redirect the user.
Amazon uses their collection of cute doggies, which softens the blow. But they also give you a path to the home page. Westley is cute and all, but I need some direction here. It even connects with customers with the Meet the dogs of Amazon link at the bottom. They're all so adorable!!! It makes this huge company seem more human and wanting to share common interests with users.
Amazon page not found message
Don't forget Accessibility
Best way to exclude users and make them feel lost and unwelcomed is building apps and websites without considering accessibility requirements. Here are a few requirements to keep in mind:
Color and contrast
Adapt layout to different devices
Support for text resizing
Did you know that the SAP Help Portal has Accessibility and Sustainability features at the bottom of each page? Change your font size, enable the reading line, and improve performance. This is a good start, but there's more to come!
Accessibility and Sustainability features
Give us your thoughts
How do you build trust in your software or help documentation? Tell us your thoughts.
Disclaimer: We do not endorse or oppose any of the listed companies or products. We are simply providing some examples to illustrate how companies build trust with users.