I jumped out of a plane earlier this year. A tandem skydive from 14,000 feet may not sound as spectacular as Felix Baumgartner’s space jump, but it was an exhilarating experience! While the actual skydive took less than 10 minutes, the process of finding a trustworthy skydiving facility took over 10 hours.
Since no one I knew had gone skydiving themselves, I started with a Google search. It wasn’t very consoling that Google’s top search suggestions had to do with skydiving death and accidents, but I pressed on anyway. With most skydiving facilities being equally far away from civilization, and prices being similar, the selection process came down to how trustworthy they seemed. This was an extreme example, where I was literally putting my life in the hands of a business based on their online presence. Even with lower stakes, trust is a basic user expectation and online businesses need to convey trustworthiness.
Sites usually convey trust through a combination of the following:
- A known, recognized brand is one of the primary indicators of trust (and a reason why most users won't think twice about buying from Amazon instead of an unknown website)
- A professional, usable design that inspires confidence
- Content, images and multimedia that support and encourage the decision making process
- Visible contact information, even if the user does not have to use it. Offer contact options and alternatives: even though Amazon does not publicize its customer-service phone number, it makes up for it by offering excellent support via email, chat and call-back
- Unbiased ratings, reviews and unsolicited testimonials from customers
- Highlighting security on secure areas of the website to remind customers that their information is safe; even though browsers have small built-in indicators to show secure areas, reiterate it on the page
In addition to the above, lesser known brands should also consider:
- Offering trusted payment options like PayPal to reduce the barrier of trusting the site with credit card or bank details
- Highlighting praise and reviews from trusted third-parties like print publications and online media (financial aggregator site Mint.com highlights quotes from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Money)
- Displaying trusted third-party certification and affiliations. These include trust certificates (e.g. TRUSTe), security badges (e.g. VeriSign), accreditation (e.g. BBB) and ratings (e.g. Bizrate)
I finally selected a facility that had United States Parachute Association licensed and experienced tandem instructors, with a good safety record, and positive reviews on other sites. The facility exuded confidence and energy on their site through content, video, images and detailed FAQs for first time skydivers.
The skydiving search experience will significantly reduce the time I will spend researching the next item on my bucket list - flying a plane!
skydiving image by amab7 on stock.xchng