We have already approached the issue of the role of psychology in marketing and sales in past articles. Today we will do a little more in-depth analysis of what influences people to do their shopping on a specific website, while leaving an apparently similar one. There is a difference between the two of them, however, and most of the time it has nothing to do with its prices or product quality.
It’s all about the design of the website and the way they use psychological principles to attract people and lead them towards conversion. After all, people are emotional and instinct driven beings when it comes to many actions they take, and shopping is one of them. While there is a rational, logical component in the process – “I need a pair of new shoes to replace those I wore out already” – the emotional part of the brain makes the final decision – “I will buy these shoes, they look so nice and the website is so easy to navigate”.
So, what psychological principles are in play in designing a website with a high conversion rate? More or less, the following ones:
- The Law of Prägnanz
Also known as the law of pithiness, this psychological principle states that all people will reduce their life experience to simple patterns and actions in other to understand them and act on them. For instance, if you see a complex design with irregular angles and curved lines, your mind will deconstruct it into several simple geometrical figures overlapping each other. It will not perceive the design as a very complex whole, but rather as a compound of other designs, which are familiar to you.
The application of the law of Pragnanz is as simple as its definition: remove clutter and complex designs from your website, and it will convert. Keep your page layout simple, clean and free of fancy shapes or pointless animations.
- Hick’s Law
Hick’s Law states that the more items a person has to choose from, the longer it will take them to make a decision. Many large companies took advantage of this scientifically proven finding by reducing the variety of their main lines of products. They noticed a significant increase in sales when people had a smaller number of different products to choose from.
The application of this principle in web design is to build your pages with as little choices for the users to take action as possible. If you have an Add to Cart button, an email subscription button and a contact us button all on the same page and in close proximity, many users will spend time deciding what action to take – and may end up taking none at all.
- Freud’s Pleasure Principle
Sigmund Freud is probably the best-known figure in contemporary psychology. Among many findings about human psychology, the pleasure principle is among the most undisputed. It states that people would do anything to avoid pain and find pleasure. But how is this principle useful in creating websites?
It is very relevant, because it states that you must do everything to remove the user’s pain (long signup forms, complex checkout process, long and difficult to read Terms and Conditions) and stimulate their pleasure (easy return policy, money back guarantee, simple add to cart and continue shopping process). Every difficulty your user encounters in the shopping process is a pain. Every benefit they perceive in doing business with you is their pleasure.
- The Law of Instant Gratification
Let’s face it, we all hate to wait for something. Be it the underground train taking us to work or the arrival of some products we ordered online, we all want things to happen right now. This is the principle of instant gratification. How many times have you stopped to buy an ice cream cone from a street cart rather than wait until you get to a specialist gelataria to enjoy a sophisticated assortment? It is all because we want to be gratified now with something smaller, rather than wait for something bigger.
In terms of website design, this need for instant gratification can be exploited by using words and directional signs which point the user towards the satisfying of their need. “Get immediate access to our premium content”, “Sign up and start playing instantly” – these are effective ways of applying the law of instant gratification.
- The Milgram Principle
Although the experiment that led to the elaboration of this law is too upsetting to write about, the gist of Stanley Milgram’s principle is that people instinctively obey those who perceive as authority figures.
In website design and content terms, it is all about demonstrating expertise and in-depth knowledge of your industry and your customers’ needs. Through content, testimonials and design which inspires confidence, you can make your viewers see you as an authority figure and convert into customers.