Trust and Consistency in UX

Scenario 1: You go on a date with someone new. You met them online. They seem pretty cool. You wonder if you should worry about them doing something weird. You get closer. You see their behavior remains consistent over time. Your trust continues to build.

Scenario 2: You meet someone online. You start dating. They seem cool. You wonder if they'll do something weird. They say they love women. You get closer. You find a Trump sticker on their computer. Your trust is shattered due to the inconsistency of their behavior.

Dating and UX are strangely similar. Users check you out. They see how you make them feel. They're naturally suspicious because they may have been burned in the past. They trust your designs more over time as they see consistency in your product's behavior. Do you adhere to certain themes, UI patterns, and interactions? Do you stay consistent with the language you use? Is the information (pricing, product descriptions) the same everywhere?

I ran into a situation like this today and laughed at how betrayed I felt. My longtime romantic interest, Airbnb, displayed three different daily rates on its site. Here is the first view. Airbnb shows me I can rent this place for $123 per day for two people during the time period I selected.

So I click into that place to learn more about it. At the very top, the app tells me the daily rate is $90 per day. But wait, with the fees and taxes, it's more like $150. Which is it? $123, $90, or $150 per day??? WHO ARE YOU AIRBNB? HAVE I BEEN DATING A TOTAL STRANGER?! WHAT ELSE ARE YOU HIDING?!

As the paranoia ensued, I spiraled into thoughts like, "Has Airbnb ever been true to me with it's pricing?" and "Is Airbnb trying to make more money off of me by lying to me about the actual prices?"

Clearly consistency in pricing, among other things, has a significant impact on trust. I've heard this echoed by UX Directors who work at banks where money is at the center of every interaction. They explained that they have to be extra careful to be correct, transparent and reliable.

If you want to grow and retain your users' trust, make sure to be consistent and to keep it real-especially when it comes to money.