The ultimate goal of a website is to drive viewers to complete an action. Whether you’re looking to capture information, sell a product or simply inform and build a community, getting your audience to perform your intended action is the key to success.
Unfortunately, we’re not psychic. However, using some common psychological theories will help to improve the chances that your viewers engage with your site. Integrating these elements into your site or next project is an easy way to improve results.
The Psychology of Web Design
Of course, you’ll need to adapt these theories to fit your specific audience or niche. However, these theories have proven effective by research and commercial teams time and time again.
Take a Look at the Big Picture
The human brain processes a constant stream of information. To help analyze large quantities of information, such as websites, the brain will zoom out and look at the information as a whole before focusing on smaller details. This process is known as Gestalt psychology.
To help make it easier to absorb the content of your site, you must optimize and plan your structure, navigation and layout carefully. This is best started in the concept and planning stage and carried through wireframes or mockups all the way to the final release.
If readers cannot break the site into smaller, easy to process sections, the chances they will move on increases. Focus on the design and first impressions and you’ll capture attention and drive engagement.
Unleash the Power of the “Z”
When most users read a website, they’ll start in the top-left corner and scan across. After reaching the end of the first line, many will scan quickly down the page in a diagonal then across the bottom line of text on the section, screen or page.
You want to be sure that the real meat of your content, the hook or the call to action fall into this Z-shaped zone. Ignore this zone and you could find that readers scan the page and move on without ever noticing your most important content.
Create Interest with Short Lines
The whole idea of scanning is to get an idea of the content of the page before investing deeper effort or thought. Leading an article, a piece of copy or other written content of your site with a series of shorter lines will help readers to engage with your site. This is easily accomplished using a multi-column layout. Place your content on one side and an attention-grabbing image next to it for optimal impact.
Keep in mind that the benefit of shorter lines appears to wear off as the overall length of the piece or section increases. After you’ve set the hook, be sure to transition to a wider layout to allow for easy consumption of the rest of the information.
Create Emotion with Color
Especially with the trend toward flat or grid based designs, color is an increasingly important part of psychological marketing. Current research by both marketing teams and scientists suggests that the color of a site can impact the emotions and moods of visitors.
Influential colors and their impact include:
- Blue: Known for creating a sense of calm and security, this is one of the most popular color palettes in web design at the moment.
- Yellow: While positive associations are common, yellow is also known to create a heightened emotional state. This could lead to anxiety or stress. Use with care.
- Red: Known for stimulating appetite the color is great for food-themed projects.
- Black: Including elements of black in your layout can add a premium feel and perception of value to your site. Just be sure to keep readability in mind and use contrasting colors or fonts accordingly.
- Green: Linked with creativity, green is a great choice for productivity, art and other action-oriented sites. It is also gaining an increasing association with organic products and outdoor activities.
Don’t Be Afraid to Persuade
In many ways, marketing is all about persuasion. From creating a value proposition to explaining why a user should follow through with your call to action, persuasion is a force that can make or break any website.
Keys to effective persuasion include a pitch that is tailored to your audience or market, communicating in terms that are relatable and offering value in your offer or proposition.
As social media and web technologies have matured, consumers have access to increasingly powerful and effective means of researching products, services and brands. If you can explain why they should complete your action or answer common questions without them having to research, you increase the chances of a positive response or conversion.
Keep it Simple
The same technologies that have placed never-before-seen power in the hands of consumers have also overloaded many of them with information. Between social notifications, emails, television commercials and other forms of interaction and marketing, the attention span of the average website visitor is shorter than ever.
This makes it imperative to keep your copy or content concise and simple. Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean you cannot have a voice or brand.
Opening with dense material or lofty language is an easy way to earn a bounce and send your viewers looking elsewhere. Start with the core of your message to drive engagement and create interest. Once you have their attention, you can dive into the details.
While trends in design, marketing and conversion will change over time, psychological theories are rooted in human nature. This makes them more likely to produce results even as other trends shift. Try tapping the power of the brain to improve results in your online business ventures.