Why UI

The establishment of trust


Updated October 08, 2019

In a world where you will encounter thousands of carefully designed interactions every day, it is important to stop and observe how you arrived at this particular moment.

Specifically — how did you arrive on this page?

Where you are physically located isn't of great consquence as this is the web and you could be reading this before bed in Chennai, India just as easily as you could be reading it on your phone riding the bus to work in Toronto.

Your gender, race, age, and sexual orientation do not play a role nor do your politics — unless you follow me closely on Twitter.

You are likely here because you are on a quest for understanding — or perhaps you are merely curious about the topic of design. Either way while there is definitely knowledge thirst, you probably didn't arrive here from a Google search because there are thousands of other posts online about interaction design that you could be reading. While I will touch on what interaction design is, this post is really about how interaction design works and why that is important.

In truth, you probably arrived here because of the transitive power of trust.

Perhaps you're part of the New Pragmatic online community and the discussion there has prompted you to spend a few minutes with this material. Maybe you met me at one of my workshops or you are a former bootcamp student and that personal connection played a role in your visit. Some likely watched a video of me teaching somewhere and found your way here via that channel.

Regardless of your specific path to this page, the actual reason you are here and not somewhere else is based in the power of trust and trust is built slowly over time.

Let's move our discussion of trust from this page and into the real world. The ultimate sense of trust hangs in the balance when we risk harm or injury if our trust is betrayed. One potentially life-threatening situation most of us have encountered is the relatively simple task of crossing a street.

There are many factors that directly influence the amount of trust you are willing to extend to the environment around you when you take that first step into the street. Below are just a few of the considerations that weigh on your decision:

  • How busy is the street?
  • Is it a street with multiple lanes of traffic?
  • Is there a stop sign?
  • Is there a stop light?
  • What is the weather like?
  • Can I see clearly in both directions or is there a hill or curve?
  • What time of day is it?

This set of considerations grows significantly if you happened blind, deaf, wheelchair-bound, or dealing with one of the many temporary impairments that we've all had (broken arm, assisting small children or older adults, etc).

Additionally, your trust of one intersection doesn't automatically transfer to other intersections. Some intersections you will begin crossing without much thought, only to stop immediately at the next, much busier crossing.

Like the aformentioned intersection, the trust extended to the products we interact with is shaped by many internal and external factors.

Like all things that exist in the realm of product design, interaction design is yet another part of the design spectrum that resists singular definition.


Once complete, update your Program Journal with links to any assets produced in this exercise. Post your Journal in the #Feedback-Loop channel for review.


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