Recap/commentary: Trust in mobile ecommerce

25 Sep 2005 5:00 PM | Deleted user

The last Triangle UX meeting (Tuesday 9/20, hosted by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development) focused on designing ecommerce interfaces for mobile devices. Wendy Fischer (Motricity) gave a presentation entitled Selling Content and Building Trust using Mobile Devices. Slides are available on the Yahoo! Group.

Wendy emphasized the critical role of trust in encouraging people to buy content and services using mobile devices such as cell phones. Trust has long been recognized as a central part of ecommerce, with researchers demonstrating that many aspects of user experience designundefinedincluding visual design and usabilityundefinedaffect trust. Wendy's talk highlighted how trust issues can be even more pervasive and important on mobile devices. Design plays a key role in developing trust by enabling customers to feel comfortable and secure when making a purchase.

One key element in building trust is designing effective support for browsing. Some guidelines for supporting browsing include:

  • Minimize clicks ("a click is a terrible thing to waste")
  • Provide rich previews of content, or direct access to content
  • Provide easy comparison of different items
  • Provide help and assistance, especially for novice users
  • Personalize views to match device capabilities
  • Make all costs and fees clear
  • Make it easy to cancel a purchase or return an unwanted item

One company that implemented a "browse and buy" interface following these guidelines increased its returning customers from 18% to 46%.

The guidelines are in accord with research on credibility and trust, HCI guidelines, and browsing, suggesting that effective mobile design can build upon lessons learned in Web design and HCI.
At the same time, mobile devices, with their small screens and limited input options, make for a unique design platform. Exploring the tradeoff between simplicity and functionality on these devices, and finding innovative ways to support exploration and purchasing, will provide many challenges for mobile designers.

-- Abe Crystal

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