Web Design for the Mind – Incorporating the Customer Psychology
Finding ways to combine psychology methods and findings with website development is necessary in order to maximize conversions and customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, psychology is not an exact science, and results will be hard to measure. Therefore, your approach should be highly contextualized and take into account the website’s specifics in order to achieve good results.
The first psychological step is to build trust with your regular visitors and customers. Just take a look at Apple to see how far you can actually go with this1. Trust takes a lot of time to build and steer in the right direction, but it can be destroyed in a matter of minutes with one bad decision. The trust that people have in someone or something is directly affected by two things: whether something appears professional and if that something has performed consistently well over a period of time. Therefore, initial efforts should be focused on making the interface flawless, choosing a color scheme that fits the industry and making the logo remarkable. Color psychology is a powerful tool, which big and small corporations utilize to influence the mood and behavior of their customers2. You should emphasize how your business adds value to your customer, and not simply urge them to buy.
Consistency is the other cornerstone of trust. From a design point of view, the website should be a natural extension of the offline branding efforts. To that end, position the company logo or emblem prominently above all else, and build the menus, options, catalogues and second-tier pages to resemble your logo. Do not change the position or contents of the menu, as this is likely to confuse users.
Users like to be guided along your website, but they need breathing room as well. Therefore, your pages should not appear to be cluttered or too full of text and info, as this is more likely to scare users away. White has a calming and relaxing effect and it can be used to highlight important sections. Readers usually scan content in Z- and F-like ways, so you could position items in such an order. Alternatively, utilizing arrows or clearly labeled sections to direct attention can maximize the user experience. An innovative approach is to have a pop-up window ask for information, and to customize the page for more focused reading.
Sometimes it is possible to convey more information using optical illusions, so these should definitely be included in your psychological website re-design3. You could utilize clever optical illusions to incite the feeling of security, of progress, and of high quality, or alternatively, you could incorporate the company logo in your context for tacit messages. Furthermore, this representation can give depth and motion perception to an otherwise static website without the need for heavy flash animations. You could even “prey” on people’s desire for consistency in object forms.
Naturally, your most important content should receive the greatest amount of attention, but placing it on a high-traffic page does not automatically mean a lot of views. Users usually expend their attention on specific places on your page, mainly the whole center-left and the upper center-right4. This means that purchase, subscribe and register options should find their way onto these parts, or at least be mentioned in the body of content. Furthermore, catalogue pages should have fewer but better selected items so that users can hone in on what they want.
Finally, welcoming users with a clear mission statement and a promise to add value to their experience will give your website a more trustworthy and welcoming feel to it; even more so if it is accompanied by a picture of the management.