Designing for Trust in Peer-To-Peer Platforms: A Pattern Library for Service Designers
How designers of P2P offline services can establish trust and what principles should be considered when designing for trust.
Digital platforms connect two or more participants to exchange goods or services. Popular examples are Airbnb for lodging and home sharing, Uber for ride haling and ride sharing, and Amazon as an online marketplace for all kinds of goods. Platforms are highly reliant on the build of trust between its users and between users and themselves. It is a prerequisite for interactions within relationships and can lead to risk-taking behavior which is required for exchanges to happen.
This applies especially to peer-to-peer offline services which create communities for offline transactions such as providing accommodation (e.g. Airbnb) or transportation (e.g. BlaBlaCar): As their participants are required to physically meet for service provision or at least share personal space (e.g. an apartment) the risk of physical harm is especially high and therefore exchanges require a decent level of trust.
While scientific research on trust-building mechanisms in platforms exists, it focuses mainly on quantitative analysis of existing measures rather than providing concrete principles and guidelines to practitioners. This thesis aims to determine how designers of peer-to-peer offline services can establish trust and what principles should be considered when designing for trust. It investigates what measures are taken by existing services to inspire trust and how service designers can learn from existing implementations to improve their products.
Based on expert interviews, a model of trust-building measures was created and general principles for designing for trust were deducted. Using this model, a benchmark analysis identified implementations of trust-building measures in three peer-to-peer offline services: Airbnb, BlaBlaCar, and Betreut.de. From these implementations 52 actionable design patterns were derived. A web-based application was developed that enables designers to (1) explore the patterns and (2) to learn why trust is an important topic in platform design and how a service can actively foster trust between its users.
The research has shown that services can use a number of mechanisms to create a trustworthy surrounding and to inspire trust among the platform’s participants. The collection of patterns can significantly help service and platform designers to improve the quality of implementations, speed up the design process, and save resources.
I conducted this thesis project graduating in Design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam in cooperation with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. This thesis is currently classified as an internal document, therefore I am not permitted to publish its contents outside of Volkswagen AG except this abstract.
- Project name
- Designing for Trust in Peer-To-Peer Platforms: A Pattern Library for Service Designers
- Project timeframe
- Mar 2020 – Jun 2020