From Trust, Not For

Design from Trust is not the same as Design for Trust.

The latter is design with the intention of getting users of the good or service being designed to trust that good or service.

Joe Gebbia, one of Airbnb's three founders, describes this process well in this 2016 TED talk. His example is the dialog box on Airbnb where people asking to stay at someone's property describe why they would like to stay there. Make the dialog box too small and applicants won't say enough. Too large, and they might go overboard, revealing more than they should, or feel like the task was too daunting and not follow through.

Picking the Goldilocks-sized dialog box is what Gebbia means by Design for Trust. It is a useful practice and likely increased host trust in the system, as well as the number of transactions the system attracts. But it doesn't shift the usual producer-consumer relationship at all.

In contrast, Design from Trust begins from the assumption that most people who will use the good or service are trustworthy. Most, not everyone. Starting from trust leads to radically different designs, which are often uncomfortable to humans raised in an environment where distrust is the norm, and where distrust permeates the design of most institutions they take for granted.

In 2018 I posted this video explaining the difference.