Building the Elements That Earn Trust

Let’s talk about the elements that go into building trust with people who are using our services.

“The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust.”—Abraham Lincoln
A line drawing of a lightbulb in white, on dark blue background

Welcome to this week’s idea, where we explain one essential topic around 21st Century IDEA and give you the resources and tools to start making focused changes to your digital products.

This week, we’d like to talk about trust, and the key elements that go into building that trust with people who are using our services.

Those of us who oversee federal websites and digital services can’t assume that trust is a given. Trust is earned each time someone has a positive experience with your service. Building trust takes time—it involves understanding (then meeting or exceeding) a user’s expectations; a process that can be established quickly and maintained over continued interactions.

The more we do this work, it becomes clear that trust is a key value that overlays why we do this work. And it’s our job as civil servants to build the elements that earn the public’s trust.

Help us identify the elements that make a trustworthy experience possible

We’d like to get your help in defining the elements that we all need to have in place to start earning trust, and what actions federal digital teams need to take to get there.

In your words, help us complete these two sentences. There are no right or wrong answers, and you’re welcome to submit as many times as you’d like.

  1. To deliver an experience that is trustworthy, we need to _____________.
  2. To perform this action, we need _______________.

An example might be:

  1. To deliver an experience that is trustworthy, we need to use a .gov top-level domain.
  2. To perform this action, we need to register for a .gov domain at DotGov.gov. and renew it annually.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be taking your answers and using them to help point us in the right direction as we work to provide you with the guidance and tools you need to start earning trust.

Still Getting to Know 21st Century IDEA?

  • We published an overview of 21st Century IDEA where we break down the key sections of the law in clear, plain language. We’ll be building on this in the coming weeks.
  • Chat with others in government about 21st Century IDEA in the Web Managers community. This listserv has the right mix of people who work at the intersection of communication and technology in government.

Up Next

  • We’re honored to have Jez Humble join us to talk about continuous integration (#DevOps), which is essential to building great digital product teams. He’ll cover the capabilities orgs should be investing in, and how to apply these changes [Register]

  • The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) team will be doing a LIVE demonstration of a real site analysis - from defining website mission, goals, and KPIs, to pulling reporting to better understand site performance [Register]

Quotes from the field and shout-outs

🎉 Congratulations to Sarah Bryant and the whole GSA.gov team on updating https://www.gsa.gov/, which uses the U.S. Web Design System. We look forward to hearing more about how visitors are responding to the changes in the coming weeks.


Have a 21st Century IDEA related comment or question? Or maybe you’d like to shout out some work your team has done? Send it to us by 3 pm ET on Thursdays (digitalgov@gsa.gov) and we’ll work to incorporate it into the next week’s newsletter.

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