Blog: The UX of Trust

This week Elmwood announced the impending launch of the Elmwood LaunchPod accelerator based in Leeds. Our first programme will be focused on consumer health. Leeds, and the surrounding area, is one of the UK’s foremost smart cities and is recognised for its path-finding work in bringing together an integrated approach to creating a healthier city. It arrives at a pivotal moment in the evolution of the digital economy – in the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data expose and the public spat between Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook about the monetisation of customer trust has taken the centre ground. I am doubtful that Mr. Cook will emerge as the standard bearer of the new frontier of digital trust brokering and I would encourage Apple to turn their minds to making their own user agreements a little less impenetrable.

This is definitely not OK, Google!

I asked my Google Home today what data it was collecting on me. Its answer: “Hmm, I don’t know.” This is definitely not OK, Google! When I rephrased the question to one that substituted the word ‘information’ for ‘data’ I was directed to Google’s privacy website, which rather defeats the point of a voice interface. Online we have been accustomed to signing impenetrable terms and conditions that are obscure and offer no navigation to issues of substance to a user. We are endlessly retargeted and, yes, monetised. The bargain we strike between ‘free’ and ‘freedom’ to use addressable data is wearing thin because of a weakness in the original premise: there is no clear relationship between what we are giving away and what we are getting back. It often feels like a road of no return despite the recent legislative endeavours and the last resort of the ‘right to be forgotten’. Unsubscribing from the majority of apps on your iPhone is one of the most taxing user experiences you can undertake. The UX of trust has to be more than the absence of an issue, not least because hackers and the dark web are a malignancy that can be symptomless before it becomes fatal.

Designing in trust

As Elmwood launches Elmwood LaunchPod and embarks on the adventure to find outstanding innovators in consumer facing health management how trust is designed as an integral component of the value proposition will be of utmost importance. I can think of no more vital context for trust and transparency to be designed in at the outset. Trust isn’t an incidental sum of the parts outcome. It is essential and needs to be obvious and easy to access.

Striving for a higher standard

Today we buy digital solutions – whether an app or a piece of hardware – in the hope, not the certainty, that it will treat all the interactions with respect and good faith. In fact what we are doing is analogous to buying a car without knowing if it has airbags installed and whether they are likely to inflate on impact. The UX and fundamental ethics of trust are central to the success of the next chapter of the digital revolution. If the “post human” era is going to add more than it subtracts it will have to learn to hold to a higher standard than the mortal data that will drive the AI. Designing trust into the essentials of the innovators we sponsor and support will be at the very heart of the Elmwood LaunchPod.

About Steve Gatfield

Steve is a highly experienced senior management executive with many years in running global agency networks. He is chairman of Elmwood, the world’s most effective brand design consultancy. Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide and spent 18 years at Burnetts in a number of key roles including Regional CEO for Asia Pacific. Steve was EVP for Strategy & Innovation at Interpublic Group and was responsible for the expansion of IPG’s international footprint in India and Brazil and spearheaded the development of the Group’s digital assets including the acquisition of Huge, IPG’s most successful investment of the past decade.

Steve serves on the boards of Open Slate, Sensible Objects and Believe Entertainment. He has extensive experience of building successful business ventures across the digital spectrum. He is an adviser to Bristol University on the development of their new Centre for Innovation and a director of the Watershed Arts Trust and leads their Artful Innovation program.