Principles of persuasion

So your firm finally understands the importance of usability. They’ve hired a team of designers and spent a fortune on advertisements. There’s a small glitch though… customers aren’t doing what they are supposed to do i.e. buying the product that the firm has so sincerely promoted.

So how do you persuade people to actually purchase your product?

Social proof:  If all those people are doing it… there must be something to it

Social proof is the phenomenon of people imitating what other people are doing, especially when the situation is ambiguous.  We tend to look to others to validate a product. If people have recommended a hotel more than others, there is a greater chance that the hotel will be booked more often.

Reviews from other travelers help in the decision making process

Reviews from other travelers help in the decision making process

Susan Weinschenk, Phd., an expert in the science of persuasion, emphasizes the need to display peer reviews. People are more likely to imitate the behaviour of folks like themselves. The number of reviews help too, the more the reviews the more likely, people are to invest in the product/ service.

Reciprocity:  Do a good deed and the favour will be returned

People are more likely return a gift when they are given one, as they feel obliged to do so. As human beings, we have a natural urge to repay debts and return favours, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’. In the online space, this could be seen as offering a trial to a product, offering compelling content or a service free of cost.  More often than not, people will be obliged to sign up for the product or service in question.

A free sign up promotes a sense of indebtedness among users

A free sign up promotes a sense of indebtedness among users, making it more likely for them to sign up for the premier service.

I hope this post on the principles of persuasion was helpful. In my next post, I will be sharing a few more principles of persuasion.

Concession: Comparison helps with decision making

To promote the decision making process, it is always good to present people with comparisons in price and features. It is more likely that people will buy when presented with a choice, especially when one of the options are considerably lower than the other.

One great example of this principle are the price displays in supermarkets.

Comparing prices is more likely to catch people's attention and help with decision making.

Comparing prices is more likely to catch people’s attention and help with decision making.

Design without research… is that design at all?

User experience, usability, user centered design…. these are words that are very loosely used of late. I hear clients use them all the time…. to justify a completely irrelevant, flamboyant feature that they want to incorporate into their application/ website. This would annoy a designer to no end. But, truth be told, how many of us actually practice the user centered design process?

The sad truth is that it is a developer-driven culture. In the service industry, I have been part of some fabulous design teams. I have seen them being shot down with the mere suggestion of  Wireframes, let alone other UCD practices like interviews, card sorts and the like.

Designer’s adapt, that’s what we do. Card sorts, impromptu interviews and expert reviews were conducted collectively. Collaboration was the name of the game. Paper prototypes/ sitemaps were quickly mocked up after a requirement gathering meeting. These were shared with other designers. A quick card sort would be conducted. Each would contribute their ideas and this would then be formally mocked up and reviewed again.

Bottomline is without the process there is no design, unfortunately, without the user there is no design either. However, when all else fails, turn to your colleagues to help fill in the blanks!





Encyclopedia of Human Computer Interaction… Free!

The best things is life are free… first the free online HCI course from Coursera and now this… wait for it…

The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.

“Free textbooks written by 100+ leading designers, bestselling authors and Ivy League professors. The textbooks are assembled in a gigantic 4000+ page encyclopedia covering the design of interactive products and services like websites, household objects, smartphones, computer software, aircraft cockpits, you name it.”

Statement of accomplishment – Coursera

Honored to have received the ‘Statement of Accomplishment’ from the Stanford online course for HCI

Highly recommended for aspiring and seasoned designers alike. The course is well structured and covers all the methodologies necessary to practice design. There are several interesting courses out there.  Here are some that caught my eye.

Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society (University of Pennsylvania)

Human-Computer Interaction (Stanford University)

Introduction to Psychology (University of Toronto)

Social Psychology (Wesleyan University)

Creativity, Innovation, and Change (Pennsylvania State University)