Persuasive Web Design

In this article we look at what persuasive web design is. We also look at five principles designers should incorporate into their designs.

What is persuasive web design?

Persuasive web design is about getting somebody to do something without using words. This can be making a customer perform an action on your website such as clicking on a button, get them to buy something or choose a product service.

Why is this important?

This is important because scientific research shows that our human brain processes what we see 50 times faster than reading text. Therefore it is much easier to persuade somebody into performing an action through visual stimulus than by talking to them or displaying text. This is why good advertising on TV and online adverts are effective.

This thinking can be applied to web design too. Before you design your website you need to know who your audience or customers are if you are to have any hope of persuading them to take action on your website. Furthermore, you must understand how your product or service will fit into the lives of your customers. Successful purchases, sales or conversions will be higher when you offer something customers need and want in a way that relates to them.  

Five principles of persuasive web design

1) Clarity

Our brains are always questioning things. Therefore clear answers must be provided.

With regard to your website, your visitors will ask questions like “What is this website about?” “What can I get here?” “Is this service what I want?” and most important “Will I get what I need here?”

It should be clear what visitors can get or buy from your website and where to get more information. Prices should be clearly displayed. Web design firms typically direct people to quotation forms rather than display prices up front. There should be little or no jargon terms unless your website is targeted at visitors will know the terms and phrases.  

2) Visual appeal

First impressions are vital and can last years. Good websites that get this right first time will encourage constant returning visitors, particularly when the website offers what the visitors want.

Lots of research into visuals has shown that 96% of visitors notice the visual design of the website first and only 6% of them notice the content.  

Therefore, simplicity and familiarity are ideas to follow. That is a simple design that is not over bearing to the visitor with clear navigation around the website and good call to actions. Also, most visitors will know for example what online clothes store will look like and what online supermarket website will look like.      

3) Strong visual hierarchy

This is all about putting the most important thing on your website the biggest thing. Visitors will pay more attention to the biggest thing on the screen, and then the smaller items. Good examples of this are websites that have large product displays of clothes and jewellery on nearly all the pages. This may be why slide shows are so popular.

4) Keep their attention

Research shows that 80% of the visitor’s attention will be above the fold of the browser screen and that 69% of that attention will be to the left hand side of the browser screen. That is why important visuals like product slideshows tend to be the first thing that visitors see before scrolling down and why navigation menus like product categories tend to be on the left hand side of the screen.

5) One action per screen / per page

When designing your website you should consider what each web page is for. You should not overload the page with lots of calls to action like click here, sign up here or so on. Visitors may get turned away or get confused.