This post was written with Senem Biyikli.

Before the 2020 pandemic, design priorities at many organizations were different:

  • Using an unfamiliar, branded term in site navigation might have been bad practice, but you might have let it happen anyway. Your customers might not have fully understood the word, but it might not have been enough of a priority to fight for a change.
  • That confirmation email could have been a bit vague or used some back-end shorthand like “XY-21471” for a product — after all, you would have your job done by sending a “confirmation.”
  • Maybe delivery dates or imagery could be unclear — customers would get their order anyway.
  • Employees could ask a neighbor about an unfamiliar term or process that confused them.

Sure, it wasn’t great, but it was OK. Customers would have gotten a little confused, sales would have been lost, the company might have gotten a few more phone calls, and employees would have been a little slower.

Back then, maybe you were designing for delight. Or aiming to be seamless. Or easy. Or beautiful.

Now, those things are secondary — the top priority in 2020 is designing for confidence.

Why? Because customers and employees, battered by a pandemic, financial uncertainty, political uncertainty, and environmental disasters, shouldn’t have to struggle to figure out whether you’ve let them accomplish the goal that was the reason they turned to your product or service. You should do everything you can to make it clear to them. Did they order the right item? Did they find the coverage information they needed? Do they know when their subscription change takes effect? Did they finish filling out that form? There should be no loose ends.

You’ll get revenue-generating customer behaviors, customer loyalty, adoption of self-service tools, and reduced customer support costs. Employees will be more productive and happier. Pretty good deal, right?

We collected our findings from Forrester’s last two years of heuristic reviews and remote usability testing conducted with regular users. And based on those findings, we compiled a set of best practices for creating that confidence, complemented by examples of practices to avoid because they reduced confidence.

Forrester clients can read our new report here: “Design For Confidence.” For those striving to create that confidence in employee-facing applications, we analyzed the Adobe, Google, and IBM design systems for best practices and collected them here. Soon, we’ll have even more about the design processes to use when designing for employees with the upcoming report, “Design For Work: Boost Productivity And Satisfaction By Transforming Enterprise UX.” We hope you’ll find these resources useful — and we know your customers, prospects, and employees will be grateful for your efforts to design for confidence.

If you’re working on these challenges or have questions about this, get in touch — we’d love to hear from you.