Published: 13 November 2015
The general goal of most websites is to attract viewers and persuade them to do something. More specific goals will vary depending on the purpose of the site, and most sites have multiple goals. For example, an commerce site goal could be to make a sale, or it could be to engage with potential future customers in a meaningful way. All these goals, big or small, have one thing in common, people. Websites exists to influence, inform, persuade, engage, or enable people. Therefore it seems obvious that a scientific understanding of how people behave, process information, and make decisions would benefit a website.
Every decision a person makes is influenced by a host of conscious and subconscious thoughts. This can include their past experiences, habits, preconceptions and biases, what the people around them are doing, the media, etc. Large companies know the value of good research, how small changes to just one element on a website can bring in massive gains when multiplied thousands of times. For smaller businesses the benefit is in having a website designed with the end users in mind, and with a full awareness of the psychology that drives peoples actions and decisions. There are a few principles that you can put to work quickly on any website,
There are several design elements that we can use to influence how a persons reacts to a website.
Simplicity, don’t let the website design get in the way of the content. A well designed website should amplify the effect of the content, not distract from it. Any design element you place on a page should have a purpose, to guide the user to the content and encourage them to ….
Content can be any one of a number of things these days, words, images, audio, video, downloadable files, games, SaaS apps, and I’m sure much more besides. However, for the purposes of this guide I’ll stay focused on words and images.
most browsers are impatient and looking for instant gratification, give it to them
Provide evidence that your product is great: Reinhard (1988) classes as ‘Any factual statement, object, or opinion not created by a source that is used by that source as support’ from here.
Words: what should good copy do?
Images can be used in several ways to guide a users attention, reinforce a concept or feeling, give atmosphere,
in a useful way, so it lowers the cognitive load
People tend to be impatient when looking for information online, they skim content rather than read it looking for instant gratification.
If you want people to part with their bank details its essential that they feel they can trust you. The same applies if you are a builder, lawyer, or pretty much any other type of commercial business. There are many ways to reenforce trust with your consumers, here are some of the easiest to get you started.
Users like control, don’t piss them off with popups and random redirects
Nudge: use lots of signals to guide your user to the desired action. Eg focal point/standout (price boxes). However, people follow habits and intuitions, not a web designers instructions, so make the website work with them.
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