I’ve just finished reading ‘Neuro Web Design – What Makes them Click?’ by Susan M. Weinschenk, this month’s book in the London UX Book Club. It’s a short, easy to read book but it successfully offers a memorable overview of persuasive techniques, specifically applied to websites.
It deals with how to get attention, create commitment and action using psychological principles such as social validation, scarcity, reciprocity, fear of loss, contrast and storytelling. Not only does it explain these concepts but also shows why they work, referencing (in layman’s terms) how the brain processes information and causes us to take action.
The ideas I liked best were prompting customers to take surveys and leave reviews after using your site or purchasing a product as a way of getting them to write down what they think. Writing something down makes us more committed to it and makes it more likely for us to maintain and express a consistent opinion later. If a customer has had a good experience, this method helps turn them into enthusiastic and vocal referrers.
Creating and manipulating customer’s self personas is also an interesting concept. The best example is Mac vs. PC people. Computer users apply either a Mac persona or a PC persona to themselves (and the Mitchell and Webb ads for Apple helped reinforce this idea). Apple have eroded the PC persona through the popularity of lower value Apple products like the iPod and iPhone. Once a PC person has committed to buy one Apple product, their PC persona takes a knock and before they know it, buying a Mac seems like a good idea!
I also liked the idea of creating emotionally charged adverts in order to make a message more memorable. This explains the movement towards action scenes and fake film trailers in brand advertising.
There isn’t a lot that is new in here and if you’ve read Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion‘ the same ideas, studies and evidence are referenced but the difference is that Neuro has updated the examples in the context of the internet and given more explanation into the psychological reasons behind them. The book is well written and easy to take in, practicing what it preaches with frequent summaries and imagery that make it something you can dip back into for reference later. This feels like the persuasion psychology equivalent to Steve Krug’s usability classic ‘Don’t Make me Think‘.