Transparency: Benefits and Best Practices

When you visit a website of a business do you ever wonder who is behind that business? Being transparent online and in business has a plethora of benefits. Users gain trust and have the ability to see the human side of the business. The effects are incredible, from increasing sales to finding like minded clients.

Showing that your business is human can easily make you a stronger company. The benefits go two ways though. Not only is it great for your company but it is also beneficial for the user in may ways. In this post I will detail many examples of transparency around the web. As we go through each example I will explain why it is positive, how they have done it, and what it creates to benefit the user experience.

Build Internet

Sam and Zach of Build Internet lay it on the line. As soon as you open Build Internet‘s homepage you see the two fellows behind the website greeting you. Click on their photo and be taken to the about page. This page has a larger version of their photo and ways to contact them on a personal level through twitter. This creates a personal connection between the viewer and the owners of the website.

Comcast Cares

Talk about a marketing and customer service visionary. Comcast’s early adoption of twitter has been followed by many corporations. The difference that is still clear? Having a human face attached. Twitter is a personal social marketing tool. Therefore, when a company hops on board, why should they not also be personal?

Freelance Folder

Freelance Folder has found an awesome use for their footer. Down there at the bottom of the page they give the bio of the four main authors of the blog. This puts us in touch with the voices of what readers see day in and day out in a new way.

Twitter Blog

Vimeo

Vimeo brings us a very fun and creative About page. It actually inspires me to take a fun photo with the UXB crew and update our own about page. However, the fun photo of the staff brings a level of fun that people may not perceive when thinking of Vimeo. This presentation gives us a feeling that Vimeo folks enjoy what they do and have a life outside of their product.

Smashing Magazine

The new Smashing Magazine design is hot… but I digress. I included SM here because of the addition of their illustration in the footer. These folks are the mysterious men and women behind SM. When clicking on the footer cartoon we are taken to the about page which educates us on who these folks are and what they do. This brings a level of transparency that the previous design did not have.

This is Aarons Life

Oh, hi there Aaron! In TIAL’s footer we meet Aaron face to face. This could almost be described as a face to face meeting but presented online. Neat idea for any freelancer or blogger looking to create a strong personal brand that has their face attached to business.

Mutant Labs

Mutant Labs is similar in Vimeo in their approach. Instead of a group shot doing something fun they also took on a degree of silliness. Great to get people inspired to take on Mutant Labs as their web developer. It shows a since of creativity right from the start. This in turn can easily increase sales.

Level 9 Design

So, I can’t quite tell if Stan is really an employee of the business or not. If he is, more power to him! Regardless, Level 9 Design brings a great personal sense of humor to their front page. This can be risky but for perspective clients with like minds it could draw in those who can’t quite decide. Bringing in like minded customers can make the process smoother and more successful.

Maurivan Luiz

Landing on Maurivan Luiz I want to hire him. This User Experience Designer has taken personal exposure to a new level. Showcasing himself with a cut out smile can be taken to a deeper level when considering the philosophy behind user experience.

Hashrocket

Hashrocket showcases it’s employees on the home page. This introduces you as a prospective client to some folks that may be working with you on your next project. Following the employees is a link to all of the rocketeers. But Hashrocket goes deeper than this, providing a Flickr feed, broadcasting their book club meetups online, and even sharing their company via a vimeo account. You can virtually become a part of their team without them ever knowing. Ok, enough with the creepy stuff. Really, the transparency in this business makes it feel personal and easy to trust.

Jaredigital

Jared’s creativity flows from the page the moment you open it. But wait… Vince from Shamwow? This is an awesome example of using popular culture to connect a visitor to you instantly.

Clearleft

Clearleft has a great about page. It starts with a story of who formed it and when. Then as your eyes move across the page you meet the staff. One of my favorite examples of an about page.

Carsonified

Carsonified’s bio pages for the team members are fun and helpful. Not only do we get a taste of the personal side of the employees but we are also able to easily contact them through email or twitter.

Trends & You

Now that you’ve seen some great examples of transparency on blogs, twitter, and business’ websites we get an idea of where we could perfect our own transparency. For starters, personal freelancer’s thrive on self promotion. It makes sense for these websites to showcase a photo of themselves. Additionally, there are benefits from being open with your audience about yourself in bios, on blogs, and on your company profile page.

In closing I’d like to leave you with a few questions. What transparency practices did you enjoy most? What other examples do you have? How do you see your transparency changing after this?

Further Reading


Write for UX Booth

Contribute to UX Booth
Contribute

Contribute a guest post to UX Booth and let the community know what's important to you!



Comments

  1. I’ve always been a fan of this. People need to know that their is an actual person behind their favorite blog or business. Great post Matthew!

  2. yeah, transparency is cool. However, I like a little mystery, it adds atmosphere and depth. I also dislike the overboard, sickly-sweet, light-hearted and helpful persona. I think it’s too sales driven and seems phony, and besides it’s now a trend that needs to be broken. Sometimes a project calls for intensity, craziness, and emotion.

    -dp

  3. I really enjoyed this post… (thanks for the mention)… I really believe that it is crucial to have the personal touch/element in our work, and “brand”.

    People can go to any chop shop and get design… but when they feel that they have a knowledgeable person that is on their team looking out for their best interests it does a lot to help with client communication, and adding value to our services that we offer.

  4. I got two takeaways from this post:

    1. This is something I should do with my own websites.

    2. I run a photography site. This is an excellent opportunity for photographers and a great sales pitch. Now back to the lab to write up a post on this opportunity!

    Thanks!

  5. Sorry, but just because a company uses Twitter doesn’t make them capable or caring. Comcast is legendary for its shitty customer service. What Twitter and services like GetSatisfaction have done is make the customer complaints transparent. To save face, these companies take great care to perform damage control on these publicly visible issues. A great company cares about its customers, not just about it’s image.

    • I think this is a very fair argument. But I would also say that using twitter and using twitter effectively are totally different. Here I tried to present the importance of business twitter accounts to appear transparent.

  6. That guy on the Level 9 site is a stock photo guy that is *all over* istockphoto. http://bit.ly/rRRsp

    • Hah, thank you! :) Their tag line still applies the level of transparency in their humor.

    • yes, Sheetz (gas station) has billboards with that stock photo promoting their food. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw it. Not the level 9 company, which immediately takes away the personal touch.

  7. Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for the mention. :-)

    ty,
    Maurivan Luiz

  8. That is one great post. It always interests me when a company has a personal approach. I certainly think more of the guys who can be open and honest with their customers.

    Thanks for the great examples

  9. I’m wondering if posting turkeys is taking it overboard.

    http://mediadrink.com/turkey.php

  10. Transparency is cool to a point.

    Sorry…but I’m not dumping my name out there until I get at least a business inquiry from a potential client.

    And it’s my personal preference to have a name for my design and technology consultancy LLC that is short and cool sounding…and that does not include my name.

    I prefer that since it allows for more growth…and establishes a brand name.

  11. Its a fine balance between being freindly and open and being professional, have to think hard before posting a tweet!

  12. Transparancy is definitely something that is needed, too many websites are bland and lack personality, never mind a face to personalize it. Having said that, http://www.dublinetwork.com has a pretty cool About Us page, similar to the ClearLeft one.

  13. I recently was inspired by a couple of articles to write about this topic. For me, it’s more than a trend…it’s a movement. Maybe that seems a bit over the top, but if the organizations can actually live up to the tone then are projecting then business is finally going to catch up to the rest of the emotional world.

  14. Web minds thinks alike :)
    Transparency – was main idea of my portfolio after re-design.
    Thanks for sharing this, Matthew!

  15. These guys sell childrens furniture so have photos of themselves when they were kids:

    http://www.steveallen.co.uk/our-furniture/about-steve-allen/

  16. Great article

    PS SIFR doesnt work in iE8 :(

  17. Great article, but I think the way you present yourself should always be driven by insight into your target audience.

    Some people, from some sectors, feel more comfortable engaging with a company that appears corporate, faceless, and by tenuous deduction, professional.

    I’m all for the personal approach though.

  18. Great topic!

Related Posts