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Trust Ideation Worksheet

The ‘Trust Ideation Worksheet’ focuses on allowing design teams to come up with design concepts for new apps, products or services, with a view to ensuring that trust has been considered in the development of the product’s foundations.
This project accompanied my Master's thesis for my Industry Research Project for Hyper Island. You can read the full report here.
My Role(s):

User Researcher, Experience Designer

Tools & Processes:

Design Thinking, Human-centered Design, Double Diamond, Experience Design, User Research, HMW Statements, Personas, Concept, Prototyping, User Testing

The Problem

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light in March 2018, trust in large corporations has fallen. Blockchain technology has surfaced as a potential means of protecting personal information that removes the ‘middleman’ of who looks after our personal data. Although the technology is still in its relative infancy in terms of its wider use, there is currently a lot of hype around blockchain and the benefits of the technology. But perhaps more importantly, trust has become a major interest in technology recently, and any new technology, product or service needs to be trusted before it is widely adopted.


For my Industry Research Project on the Hyper Island MA Digital Experience Design course, I set out to try and answer the  following research question:

“How do we build trust when designing the onboarding experience for new adopters of blockchain?”

Writing a literature review on the topic revealed several insights that I was able to take further into my research:


  • Before a wide-scale adoption can be achieved, there must be trust in the technology or  product;

  • There is a user preference to convenience over security with regards to account log-in details, such as usernames and passwords;

  • Blockchain explanations are often complicated and can potentially scare users away;

  • The added value and benefits of blockchain need to be made more explicit to the user, rather than trying to explain how the underlying technology works;

  • Transparency is key. People want to know what happens to their data when third parties take control of it.


I was interested in the idea of designing for trust. To really understand how to design for trust, it was necessary to speak with designers to discover the challenges they faced during the design process for new blockchain apps and services.

According to Everett Rogers, the five characteristics of trust are: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability and observability.  

I hypothesised that there is currently a lack of trust in this relatively new technology among
those people who are not in the blockchain space because it is too difficult to explain. Interviews with designers highlighted this as a common problem, with one interviewee telling me that blockchain is not currently easy to explain in “under thirty seconds”  which in turn, makes it difficult to explain to new users. Referring back to Everett Rogers’ five characteristics of innovation adoption, ‘complexity’ provided a suitable hurdle to tackle; “If the innovation is too difficult to use an individual will not likely adopt it”. 


An online survey sent out to people who use their personal data online concluded that trust was large factor in determining how people supplied their data to companies. Many were concerned with who had access to their data, what it would be used for and how transparent that organisation was.


Insights uncovered from interviews with designers in the blockchain space revealed commonalities and patterns:


  • Transparency

  • Reliability

  • Added value for users (or 'relative advantage')

  • Simplicity

  • Self-Empowerment of users

  • Usability

  • Education of technology

  • Onboarding

  • Clear UX

  • Jargon-free language

Ideation, Prototyping & Iteration

These insights allowed me to change the focus of my research and as a result I was able to change my research question:

“How might we consider trust when developing new blockchain products
and services?”

The insights allowed me to try different configurations of what would work best in a tool to help during the development of blockchain products and services. I finally settled on: transparency, relative advantage, usability, signposting and teaching. These letters spelt out the word ‘TRUST’.

The resulting prototype is the ‘Trust Ideation Worksheet’ which focuses on allowing design teams to come up with design concepts for new blockchain apps, products or services, with a view to ensuring that trust has been considered in the development of the product’s foundations.

Through several rounds of iterations, based on feedback from users, the tool was developed further to provide space for teams to roughly sketch out an idea based on the 'Idea Napkin'. 


The ‘Idea Building Blocks’ tool on the first page is developed as a way for teams to get ideas flowing. The model can be used to quickly give substance to an idea that blockchain design teams have. This will enable individuals to talk to their design team members about the thinking behind the idea, or to express ideas and give them some form while backing up why the idea is relevant to the project. It has been developed so team members can show what the purpose of the idea is and what problem it aims to solve. 


The ‘T.R.U.S.T. Model’ on page 2 is about fleshing out how trust can be built into the idea by getting team members to ask questions. That idea can be iterated on further by discussing how to make it address some of the concerns that inhibit people’s reasoning to trust a new product, based on results from the survey and insights gathered from interviewees. The ‘T.R.U.S.T. Model’ can be used to validate whether an idea would be good for target users, and by asking relevant questions around each of the idea’s characteristics.

You can download the model here. I'd love to hear about how it helped you in your latest projects.
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