There is a lot of psychology in making a great website, and not many web designers or developers with a huge amount of knowledge about psychology. Luckily there a number of experts in the field that are happy to disseminate their knowledge to help the rest of us better understand our users.
One of these experts is Dr. Susan Weinschenk from Human Factors International who recently put together a great video on Persuasion, Emotion and Trust in User Experience, and 7 Tips for a More Engaging Website. It’s well worth a watch – here’s the video:
Did you catch all that? Quite a lot of useful information there, so we’ve written a bit of a summary for you below, along with some of our own real life examples:
How to make a More Engaging Website
1) If people have too many choices they won’t choose at all
This stands to reason; if you have too many choices, it makes it incredibly difficult to make up your mind which one is best for you, and with so many different options you may feel like you are giving something up by using one instead of another. With so many options the choice isn’t clear.
I’ve recently been suffering from this issue myself – I’ve been looking for a new camera bag, but looking on a site like Amazon or eBay presents thousands of different choices.
I suppose is one of their strong points, but the results could certainly be better curated – to give you less options with the requirements you are looking for – for example that fits a camera body and two lenses – so the decision isn’t so overwhelming. I’ve actually been putting off my purchase for weeks now because I just can’t make up my mind.
Contrast this with Apple who has a small product line which makes your purchase decision much easier. Want a 15″ laptop? 2 choices. Want a 17″ laptop? One choice. Some people may see this as a weak point, but the truth is when making your decision the choice is very clear and you are far more likely to make a decision.
2) People need Social Validation
When people are uncertain they’ll look to others to decide what to do. I’m sure you’ve all had this experience before, and I see examples almost every day – especially when people aren’t sure what to do, where to line up, who to ask or other similar situations.
The same is true in the online world; people are always looking to see what others have to say about a site, service or product. If you can provide some sort of social validation around your site, then you will build trust and give people some social validation. All this leads to higher conversions, and a better experience for you and your users.
3) Scarcity makes people want to buy
There are lots of different deal websites that use this concept. We have a very popular one here in New Zealand called Grabaseat the features daily flight and accommodation deals from all around the country.
The idea is (and apparently it’s been proven by psychologists) that when there is less of something available it seems to be more valuable. If you run a special for one day only, or have only a limited amount of something available people will feel more inclined to buy.
Of course, depending on the goals of your site you could do this in other ways as well. I’ve seen many webinars limiting the amount of ‘seats’ available to drive up demand, email newsletters available for one day only and lots of other ways to create scarcity. See what works for you.
4) Use food, sex or danger to attract peoples’ interest
This one is obviously pretty dependent on your audience, but the idea is that using these kind of images can draw people to your site and (temporarily at least) capture your attention.
One online marketing campaign that did very well using these principles was Old Spice. Their series of videos captured a huge audience – and along with the way they made the campaign interactive, it was a huge boon for the brand.
5) Use the power of faces
Unsurprisingly perhaps, humans tend to react to human faces. By having faces on your site, people tend to spend more time looking at and understanding your site, and apparently the faces in particular.
I find this point quite interesting, especially when they say you should get ‘the faces’ to look directly at the camera. In this post over at Usable World they talk about the results of their eye tracking experiments that showed users look where the faces are looking – so I thought that getting the faces to look at your calls to action would be a great idea.
Either way you might find using faces on your site will create more engagement.
6) People process information better as stories
They kind of gloss over this in the video, but I think it’s a very interesting point. I know when I’m reading blog posts the ones that pull me in are the ones that have a good, personal hook, that tell a story.
Of course, applying that to your website could be pretty difficult, but telling even a little about the story of your site could be a good start.
7) Build commitment over time
By taking your time and not rushing people they will slowly but surely feel more loyalty to your site, service or product.
I’m sure you all have your own experiences of a whole range of services building up a loyal following in this way. It’s tried and tested, and a great way to build more engagement.
Hopefully this have given you some good ideas on how to make your own site or service more engaging.
Obviously some of these points would be harder to implement on some sites than others, but there is sure to be a point or two that will work for you.
If you’ve got your own tips for how to make a more engaging site, we’d love to hear them as well. What has your experience taught you? Do you have any good examples of sites that are doing a great job at engagement?
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