I am designing a webapp for psychological research and my goal is two fold:

  1. Make a user feel as though they can trust this experiment (especially when they look at the consent form). University IRB offices often ask for many disclosures that may look scary.
  2. Avoid any bias in the design of the website.

In our experiment, we are testing how individuals react to someone who is a member of an affinity group (such as an alum of the same university).

This will be presented as rapid images and then they will be asked to quickly respond positively or negatively.

What are some considerations, I should take into account while designing the web-app?

So far I've considered:

  1. Color Theory. Colors such as blue have been shown to induce trust while white doesn't have a biasing effect in the same way studies have shown red does.
  2. Randomization of ordering. In terms of how the data is presented.

What else haven't we thought of in terms of avoiding bias/increasing user trust (while not biasing a user)

  • From the answers it doesn't seem clear: is this question about how to design an unbiased trusty webapp (no matter what the experiment is), or is it about how to design the experiment?
    – Mel
    Sep 4, 2017 at 13:43
  • @Mel how to design an unbiased web app. I've seen many studies about how tiny changes such as an evocative color like red can bias certain participants.
    – neils
    Sep 4, 2017 at 16:40
  • Unbiased in terms of what? What biases do you hypothesize? Mar 23, 2018 at 7:56

2 Answers 2


Here is a list of biases you should avoid. These biases may result in bias in emotional responses from the subject of the pictures or from the subject of the test.

  • Facial Expressions: The faces should have the same facial expressions (neutral, smiling, etc.), or they should be distributed evenly.
  • Gender: the ratio should be the same in both groups.

  • Background: The pictures were taken in different backgrounds (for instance, one group was pictured in a swimming pool, and the other in a class room).

  • The photographer should be the same one, and he should be neutral for both groups. The photographer may induce different emotional responses from the subjects.

NN/G Has a really good article about credibility in web design that I feel is applicable to your situation. However I will add some points from my own experience as well.

1) Content:

  • Are you explaining to the users succinctly what should they expect from the app?
  • Does your messaging follow good grammar rules and has zero spelling mistakes? (Think how phishing e-mails always have bad grammar / spelling, it is often a sign of untrustworthiness)
  • Do the instructions you offer to the users match the expectations you have built up for them? (e.g Are you telling them this will only take 5' to complete but it's actually a 20' long survey?)

2) Appearance:

  • Although I am not suggesting you "dribbblify" your designs. A conventional design that follows modern guidelines (e.g material design) tends to feel more trustworthy than a UI that looks like it was taken out of Windows 95. Attractiveness is more trustworthy in general.
  • Branding. Is your web app built under a well known brand? If yes, is that fact easily recognisable through the app? Users tend to be more trustworthy into brands they already know.
  • Consistency. Another way to show credibility is through a consistent user interface. Ensure that if certain UI elements look the same, they also work the same across the entire experience.


  • Similar to content. Is information easy to find? Can your users easily access an "About us" section or a "Privacy Policy" page to see how the data they provide is being used? Are there any links in the web app that take the user to the company website to find more about it before they submit the data?
  • A bit out of the realm of UX but it helps; SEO, search-ability and linking. If users google the name of your company/brand/app will good results/reviews show up in the search results? Are there any blogs from reputable sources that talk about it? Does the company behind it have any social media presence?

edit: I also found this article that makes quite a few good points similar to the above. I hope it helps.

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