Making Your Website Speak to Actual Human Brains

Andrea Ferguson

Andrea Ferguson

President at AndiSites Inc.
Andi is founder and President of AndiSites Inc. She writes about website design and development, best practices, and random stuff her busy brain thinks would be useful.
Andrea Ferguson

We all talk about “user experience” and “user interaction” design, and here at AndiSites we’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make a website speak to the human brain. We use guides like Steve Krug’s brilliant Don’t Make Me Think  and Smashing Magazine’s Psychology of Web Design to get inside the heads of our website users. For example, we know that certain colors resonate with certain audiences; that whitespace is vital for helping the brain focus where you want it to; and that people scan text on websites rather than read it word-for-word.

So given that all this is in my own brain and stimulating my growing interest in neuroscience (stay tuned for more posts on that), I was happy to find Spence Lanoue’s post, “6 Psychological Triggers That Make UX Design Persuasive“. Please refer to his full article for specific research and examples, but here are the highlights:

  1. Reciprocation:  If we do something for others, they’re more likely to want to do something for us. Give your users something useful for free before you ask them for anything, and make it personal. A free offer or free personalized advice can return manyfold.
  2. Social Proof:  When people aren’t sure what to do, they look to others to guide their actions. Show testimonials, reviews, and client logos on your website to demonstrate that others have worked with you successfully.
  3. Scarcity:  People tend to want what they can’t have. Promote time sensitive deals, and highlight e-commerce products that are in short supply.
  4. Framing:  People make comparisons when they’re making a decision. If you offer different pricing options, place them side-by-side so their features are easily compared.
  5. Salience:  People’s attention is drawn to whatever is most relevant to them at that moment. Users are typically on a mission. Help them by making the big things easy to find, then provide additional information they might find useful.
  6. Contrast:  People are more likely to remember the thing that stands out from everything else around it. Use a different (and consistent) color for calls to action. Bright colors draw attention, but they must be different from the rest of the palette and only used in those places where users are asked to do something (click, complete a form, etc.).

For a website to be effective, it must honor the way our users’ brains work. Apply these psychological concepts, and you’re on your way to more conversions, higher engagement, and happier users.

 

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