Code Computerlove explain the power of persuasion in web design.
So, you’ve got people to your website. Now it’s down to your power of persuasion.
“Persuasion is the influence of beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations or behaviours. Persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person's (or a group's) attitude or behaviour toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s), by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination of them.” Wikipedia
The offline world has been using persuasion techniques for many years, especially in retail, but few are applying this to full effect in digital design. But to us, persuasive design techniques are a vital part of Code’s offer and what sets our digital solutions apart. It can be the difference between a good website and a fantastic website. Using a PET (Persuasion, Emotion and Trust) toolkit we take our design beyond good usability.
Overview of Persuasion, Emotion and Trust (PET)
In short PET is about the use of social psychology in design to influence viewer decisions and behaviour. The toolkit has been pioneered by Human Factors Inc. It is a methodology for making user experiences more engaging, compelling, and effective.
There are more than 50 techniques, but don’t worry – we’re only going to touch on the most important ones here.
PET design complements classic usability and user experience best practice, adding a layer of psychology to “gently nudge” potential customers towards your stated goal.
In a multi-layered approach,
A look at some PET techniques in detail
Some of the key persuasion techniques we apply include:
Consistency - We like to maintain consistency between what we think, say and do.
So for example, ask someone to state a position, declare his or her intentions or show a small gesture of support. Then as their journey progresses, they will generally act in a manner consistent with their first action even if a subsequent request asks them to make a much larger commitment.
Framing - Our perception is influenced by the information we are presented.
For difficult or important concepts, wrapping the action in a story can make it easier to understand and more persuasive. Framing subscriptions or regular payments as costing “less than a cup of coffee a day” can also help people rationalise payments.
Scarcity - I want now what I may not be able to get in the future.
It’s amazing the effect inferring value in something that has limited availability or promoting it as scarce can have on goods or with time-based offers. But this does come with a warning – overuse can de-value this technique.
Social Proof - When uncertain we’re more likely to take cues from other people and do things that we see others doing.
Here’s a few more from the toolkit:
Anchoring - When making decisions we rely too heavily on one piece of information or anchor. Think about digital cameras – manufacturers want us to be obsessed with the number of mega pixels – but this is only one contributing factor to the products actual photographic quality!
Completion - We need to complete that which is started.
Commitment - If we make a commitment, we often feel bound to follow through on it
Investment - If we invest time or money in something we do not want to waste that investment. This is how Farmville has become so popular and addictive!
Reciprocation - If I give something to you, you are obliged to return the favour
Similarity - We trust people who are like us or who are similar to people we like.
When it comes to emotion, there are additional principals that apply:
Visceral processing - We immediately react to pleasing visual stimuli.
Add surprise, delight and playful elements to create an emotional bond with your audience. Find subtle ways to add illustrative imagery, interactions, visual cues and visual feedback. These can brighten up routine tasks and feel like rewards when discovered and can reinforce framing.
Behavioural processing - We respond favorably to learned, expected behaviours
If something works in a way we already know, it feels easier and we like it more.
Aesthetic usability - Aesthetically pleasing designs are often perceived to be easier to use.
Opinions based on visual stimuli happen very quickly – first impressions do count and have a halo effect.
Optimal level of challenge - We like to be challenged and tested, but not too much.
Social contagion - Our emotions are affected by the actions of those we see around us.
Goal setting - We are compelled to strive to achieve a goal if it is achievable.
Knowledge of results - We continue our actions if we are shown evidence of their success.
And so to the final element of PET design, trust. Trust is influenced by a combination of factors that act as Trust Markers:
Certifications - We trust established, certified organisations and trademarks.
Technology - We always expect technology to work, trust is damaged if it does not
Design quality - We perceive value in the things we see.
Current content - Up-to-date content indicates freshness and responsiveness.
Testimonials - We trust organisations that trust and value their customer’s opinions
Famous people and common people - I trust people like me, and celebrities I admire.
Peer advice - We trust our peers more than we do official marketing bumph.
Argue against self-interest - We trust recommendations that are not in self-interest.
Does It Really Work?
The best way we can answer this question is by showing an example of the results we’ve had for our clients. Take First TransPennine Express for example.
We’ve worked with First TransPennine Express for a number of years and have taken their site from a reference site to an e-commerce site bringing in more than 26% of their total revenue through bookings.
This year alone overall online ticket sales are up by 86% and the conversion rate on the site increased by 49% YOY.
In addition to re-designing the website by applying our best practice PET principals we’ve enhanced the consumer experience with innovative mobile solutions.