For Business

Turning UX trust busters into boosters

Seven straightforward design tips to help you build shopper confidence.


When shoppers visit an unfamiliar ecommerce site, they tend to look for signals that indicate a brand or merchant is trustworthy and it’s safe to make a purchase. Establishing consumer confidence from the get-go can be a critical component in driving conversions.

By following a few fundamental principles of user experience (UX) design, you can easily avoid some of the more common trust busters that scare off shoppers. The good news is that the cost of implementing these measures can be relatively negligible, particularly compared to the potential cost in lost sales of not addressing them.

“One of the key things about these trust busters is that they really affect new customer acquisition,” says Buy with Prime senior UX researcher Kevin Petway. “If you’re shopping with a merchant you’ve purchased from before, you probably already have some trust in them.

“But for a lot of smaller brands that don’t necessarily have established reputations, shoppers are going to question them more. They might be coming in from social media or a referral page, and they’re going to carefully look into whether or not you’re a merchant they feel they can buy from. You need to make them feel as comfortable as possible by making sure you’ve got your site buttoned up.”

There are many ways to boost trust with your UX, and the more you can shore up the legitimacy of your site and brand, the more you can reduce checkout abandonment and increase conversions. But the first step in improving shopper confidence is making sure your site meets some basic criteria for customer experience.

Here are some key trust busters to be aware of, and some actionable advice on how to turn them into trust boosters.

Trust buster #1: A messy and disorganized website

On a basic level, if your site looks unprofessional, shoppers will be immediately wary. Common but easily addressable design issues include layouts that don’t have enough white space, unclear navigation or labels, and misaligned text or images.

“Messiness can often come down to something as simple as using too many different fonts or font sizes, or using H1s and H2s where there should be paragraph text,” says Buy with Prime UX designer Marisa Glick. “From a legibility and readability standpoint, is it a screen-friendly font, or is it a font that’s better suited for print material? Ensure that you’re using fonts that the shopper can easily digest.”

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There are a few best practices you can follow to ensure your site presents as polished and cohesive. While plug-and-play platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce have useful templates to help simplify the design process, it’s important to remember there’s a fine line between clean and generic.

“Websites that look too templatized in structure, design, and layout without any distinct brand presence are a red flag for some shoppers,” says Kevin. “So a general recommendation for merchants who use templates is to make sure their brand pops with distinguishing characteristics.”

Trust buster #2: Too many ads and pop ups

Don’t bombard your shoppers with ads and pop ups. Use them sparingly, and give them the opportunity to have a seamless shopping experience before you start asking them to do more.

“Shoppers get very irritated by overlays and pop ups,” says Marisa. “There’s a point in the shopping journey where it feels appropriate and convenient to have a promotion or window pop up that says, ‘submit your email or join our mailing list,’ but you would never want to fire an overlay or pop up when they’re already in the checkout funnel. That’s just a friction point preventing them from placing their order.”

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Remove any friction points in your shoppers’ journey. “A lot of merchants are eager to establish connections with potential shoppers, but they often overlook how these friction points actually interfere with the experience,” Kevin adds. “There’s a time and a place, but they should be used conservatively. Don’t hit them with a pop up the second they get to your site.”

Trust buster #3: Hard-to-find customer service options or missing contact information

When it comes to brand perception, consumers are comforted knowing there’s a phone number to call, even if they’re never going to use it.

You should be similarly transparent about your business location, with an address that’s clearly visible. “Where are you based?” asks Marisa. “Making sure consumers understand that you’re a real entity with a valid address can help bolster trust.”

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“Make sure that shoppers can find this information easily, whether that’s in your ‘contact us’ or ‘about’ pages, or at the bottom of your home page,” she explains. “Be up front about where your products ship from, the same way you are about your phone number and return policy.”

Make sure to highlight your customer service options, be it a chat or a phone number. “Shoppers feel more confident, knowing they can easily contact a real person to get answers right away,” Marisa says.

Communication and transparency are also important when it comes to refund policies. Having clear return policies and product warranties with familiar shipping and payment options can go a long way in building trust.

Showcasing the Amazon Pay’s A-to-z guarantee is a simple way to boost that signal. “It holds a lot of power,” noted Marisa.

Trust buster #4: Questionable, insufficient, or absent product reviews

Sites that display ratings and reviews generally have higher conversion rates. Shoppers want social proof of quality, and they tend to consider product reviews from real people to be more trustworthy than merchant content.

“In our research, one thing that concerns shoppers most are sites that don’t have any real reviews or any way to vet them externally,” says Kevin. “They can’t find anything on these sites to help them understand if it’s a real, vetted, safe merchant.”

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Reviews on Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot are a good start, but the best is to have reviews alongside your products. One way to establish shopper confidence and brand credibility is to display Reviews from Amazon on your ecommerce site.

Good reviews improve sales and McKinsey experts go as far as to say that “traditional marketing is a thing of the past,” so spend your resources on acquiring those valuable positive reviews. Grow your social media presence to bring in more customer reviews, and make sure to respond to those first reviews to encourage more shoppers to comment as well.

Trust buster #5: Spelling or grammatical mistakes

It might seem obvious, but glaring spelling and grammatical errors can be trust killers, even for established brands.

“It comes up a lot,” says Kevin. “Even if the site is legitimate, when shoppers see spelling and grammar mistakes, they think, ‘Is this merchant scamming me? Is this site even based in the US?”

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Poorly edited content triggers suspicion, no matter how good your site design is. This is one of the biggest trust busters and it’s also one of the easiest to correct.

Trust buster #6: Forgetting about mobile

More than half the website traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices, yet many smaller online merchants design their ecommerce sites for desktop. With layouts, photos, and video assets optimized for desktop, many sites don’t translate seamlessly to a mobile experience.

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These days, it’s more important to start with a mobile-friendly, mobile-first site. Afterall, mobile ecommerce sales are expected to double to $710 billion in 2025, compared to 2021.

“It’s not just a different experience, you want to be really rigorous about how fast your pages will load,” says Marisa. That means making sure your video and photo content is properly compressed and can be accessed easily on mobile without latency. Don’t leave your customers hanging.

Trust buster #7: Not testing your site

Once you’ve built a clean, professional website and done your best to address any potential trust busters, one of the simplest things you can do to make sure your UX is optimized is to ask real people to test it out.

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You can start by asking for feedback from friends, family, and your employees. You can also use paid user testing services or reach out to user-review communities on sites like Reddit.

“You should consistently test and review your site to make sure that you’re hitting on those trust elements signals,” advises Marisa.

Ask people to go through your site and perform specific tasks, like reach customer service, and observe them. Are they struggling to find that information or is it easy? “This process can be incredibly helpful in identifying any changes you need to make to your customer experience,” she adds.

To form a perception of your brand, consumers evaluate the overall appearance and usability of your website. They’re looking for a clean layout that’s easy to navigate without getting attacked by pop-up ads. They’re looking for a checkout journey that’s familiar and convenient. And particularly on unfamiliar ecommerce sites, they’re looking for signals that say “beware,” like wonky text and typos, or a suspicious lack of information.

Get more insights about building shopper trust from the Baymard Institute’s latest report.

You can also learn how to deliver a Prime shopping experience on your site using Buy with Prime.

Kelby Johnson