If you add nonfunctional experiences to an existing product or website, you also make it harder to use and less rewarding. For customers who are evaluating your product based on reliability and credibility, a broken link or dead end makes them wonder, “What else can’t I trust in this product?” For example, years ago I was moderating usability test sessions for a financial services application that I had just redesigned.


User response was unexpectedly dismal and I had no idea why. One participant immediately told me, “I would never use this website.” Why not? He pointed to the bottom of the screen. “There’s no privacy link,” he said. Was I talking to a privacy nutcase? I wondered to myself, and asked, “How important is it to you to read the privacy policy before using a website?” He looked baffled, and said, “All I know is, bank websites are supposed to have that little picture of a lock and a privacy link at the bottom, or else you’re not supposed to use them.”


By accidentally omitting one tiny credibility marker, I had inadvertently tainted customer reactions to the product. Before the next participant arrived, I quickly added in a lock image and a fake privacy policy link to the demo. Customer feedback immediately flipped from strongly negative to positive.