Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.

Psychology in Web Design

We are all fully aware of how the application of psychology in advertising and marketing has become a well-established practice, yet in web design, this remains a largely untapped discipline in the design of many websites.  In view of the fact that this can involve a great deal of time, the cost of adopting such principles by many Web developers is quite often forgone as clients, other than larger companies, don't have the budget available.  There are however some basic psychological principles that can be readily adopted in the design of your website for little or not much extra cost. 

Your website exists to influence your target market. You wish to influence the way they think, you seek to influence actions that may take and you hope to influence their buying patterns. In order to do this, you have to:

  1. Know who you are targeting.
  2. Communicate persuasively.
  3. Sell with integrity.

To achieve this you need to understand the psychology of your visitors by way of what they want, how they think, what they already know and what they feel

Good web design pays close attention to all these factors however the designer must first understand the target market.  As a web designer/architect, this is a big part of our role.  Not only do we need to understand the business and its processes but also understand the psychology of our clients and their market. This helps us to identify key concepts to be incorporated into the design of the website.

Knowing Your Target Market

Too often businesses fail to understand the target market either because they have not carried out some level of market analysis or, as seems to be more common, they have neglected to update the market analysis done in the past and not recognised significant changes that have occurred their market.

An aspect too often overlooked is overlooking the inclusion of your competitors in market analysis.  Whilst understanding your customers is critical, profiling your competitors can quite often identify strategic opportunities. 

It is essential that you also understand that not all customers think in the same way.  In identifying the different market sectors, you can sometimes identify sectors of the market you don't wish to target, thus freeing up resources for more profitable opportunities.

Communicate Persuasively.

Your visitors will make up their minds about your website and your business in less than five seconds and in fact your subconscious mind has formulated a view in just 1/20th of a second. 

You need to convey a sense of trust, integrity and authority if you expect your visitors to view further information or to take some action on your website.  How you do this comes down to the manner in which you communicate your messages.

Some simple principles that you can apply to improve your communications would be:

  1. Consistent And Clear Branding Establish the right branding your business and be sure that everything about your website supports those messages both clearly and consistently.
  2. Use of Imagery to Reinforce Concepts Pay attention to the content of all images you use ensuring that visitors can relate the image the concept you are putting forward.  It is helpful that the colour theme of your images is consistent with the colour theme of your branding and be sure to use good quality images.  For details on use of colour and related psychology of colour refer to our article “Defining a Colour Theme for Your Marketing”.
  3. Be Singularly Focused Each page on your website should have a single point of focus.  Keep the information clear and don't confuse visitors with multiple calls to action or too many different elements in your page.  The use of white space can assist greatly in business attention to the different elements in your page. Chaotic layouts only confuse you visitors which leads them to exit from your site. 

Sell with integrity.

One of the greatest challenges in the online market is establishing your credibility and building trust.  These do not come overnight. If your visitors don’t sense these factors, then there are plenty of other websites they can go to offering what they are looking for.

There are 6 principles of influence that you can use to build integrity and trust online. 

  1. Reciprocity (give-and-take) Be proactive, give something away or make concessions.
  2. Consistency (commitment) Be sure that you can communicate and act in a way that is consistent with your business brand around values and identity. Get a commitment identifying client traits and make a request on your customers.
  3. Social proof (herd instinct) We naturally look to other people for queues on how to behave. Use of social media and citations in other websites can provide the social proof your market wants to see.
  4. Liking (similarities) Whether we believe is fair or otherwise, humans prefer to comply with people they actually like. To boost your likeability, highlight aspects that your market can feel a sense of affinity, provide genuine compliments and above all, be trustworthy.
  5. Authority (expert appeal) We are rewarded for behaving in accordance with authority figures.  You should set out to be perceived as an authority in your field, support claims with evidence and above all be inspiring.
  6. Scarcity (in short supply) People tend to value what is in scarce supply.  Create a sense of urgency in your website/sales, clearly identified expiry dates and show limited stock.

This article only touches on the aspects of psychology in web design.  It does however offer you the opportunity to identify some of the basic principles that you can apply for not much expense other than your own time.

If you would like Top Left Designs to review your own website, we can identify opportunities on how you can better influence visitors and converting business opportunities. Call or contact us and we will be happy is discuss your website design needs and improvements that can be made.

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