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.


A crash course in Visual design

Quick and effective article on Information and Visual design.

It’s no BFA, but gets the basics in place for anyone interested.

Usability testing – Does it apply to me?

What makes a good website? Is it the slickness of the look and feel, the features that the site offers, the interesting content or the ease of use?

The look and feel of your site maybe sensational, but what’s the point if it does not accomplish its purpose, which is to lead people to its content? The features that the site offers may be varied and interesting, but what if the user cannot get to them?

An established firm can probably afford the services of a usability consultant, but what about any of us regular people… what are the basic rules that we can follow to have a usable website? Continue reading

Best Practices – Online Customer Experience

In my previous post, I attempted to define customer experience. This post however will actually prove how important it is to pay attention to the customer.

Lets take ecommerce consumer electronic sites for example. Research in this area states that the best consumer electronic site is more than 50% easier to use as it is informative & more persuasive – Source: change sciences kantuit reports.

The area of research may vary but the solution for a good customer experience will be the same. The following are ways to improve customer experience.

Put it all out there
Offer customers an easy way to browse all products/services on offer. A strong search option, that is intuitive, can go a long way. Promoting new products or services is fine though you might want to back this up with a good catalog that the customer can scan at one go.

Help customers locate content
Minimalize content. Do away with unnecessary graphics. Ensure a clear navigation so that  users do not get lost in the site. Display important content ‘above the fold’ so that users don’t have to look for it.

Do not overdo the homepage
Don’t bombard the homepage with promotions and special offers. Instead, concentrate on getting across the website’s message to your users.

Ensure that link and title names are accurate
Amazingly, you will find this simple rule violated. Title and link names must correspond  to the content they indicate.

Focus on the customers need
Customers call the shots, so decipher what they need and give it to them. For example in  ecommerce sites, customers want a quick and easy yet safe check out process. Attempt to  complete the checkout process within 2 steps.

Cross sell and up sell carefully
Ensure that offers are targeted to specific customers. This way cross selling and up selling is more effective and customer loyalty is increased. Over-communication or irrelevant communication reduces the impact and instead might turn off the customer.

These are some suggestions to make your site more customer-friendly. If you feel that there
are some more that can be added, feel free to comment. I shall add them to this post accordingly.

7 more steps for successful online advertising

As a follow up to my article “Four Steps to Successful Banner Ads“, it’s only apt that I address some best practices that should be followed for online advertising in general. From a usability point of view it is necessary to follow these best practices so that user’s are attracted to your ad and actually click it.

Target your audience
In order to drive traffic to your website the first step would be to identify a target audience and build your ad accordingly. For this you will have to take into consideration the relevance of your ad to your customers. Advertise only in areas where your business or service is available. Your ad should be clear and concise and have your company’s name in it.

Dove targetted real women without regard to age, shape, height or nationality, replacing the customary statuesque supermodels in this ad campaign.
Dove ad
Use keywords to narrow down customers
When you use specific keywords in your ad, you automatically weed out those who aren’t your customers. On the other hand it lets your customers know that your ad is relevant to them.

Focus on your product/business’ strengths
Highlight a special feature or a unique offer that your product or business has to offer. This will help you stand out from the rest of the competition. Make sure you include your brand name/logo in your ad. This helps give the customer a sense of trust in the brand.

Giving information about your product along with displaying the company’s logo will help the customer trust your brand

weight watcher ad

Keep it simple
Keep your ad simple, easy to read and grasp. Avoid the use of jargon, long sentences and complex punctuation. Do not attempt to advertise your product entirely in the ad. Leave the user enough curiosity to click the ad and read more

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Four steps to successful banner ads

This week am working on a project that includes banner ads. These need to promote the brand of the company on its website.

The question was: What kind of features should an ad have to help catch the attention of users and increase sales as well. Online Ads have to follow certain Best Practices in order to be profitable.

Primarily these Ads need to reflect the brand of the company while being effective at sales. On the other hand they should also be able to measure the attitude of the customer with regard to the brand.

A quantitative way to gauge the effectiveness of the banner ad would be pretty simple. Web metrics can capture the number of clicks that a banner attracts. Companies generally experiment with combinations of banner size, color and layout to get the best response from customers in terms of clicks.

However online banner ads cannot be considered successful based on clicks alone. The customers feel and attitude towards online banners is just as important if not more.

As online marketers, we underestimate the level of commitment involved when a consumer clicks through to a website. The consumer is making several assessments in the blink of an eye — will this be a waste of time? Will the site I click to be safe? Will the information I seek be relevant? Will I get what I need efficiently? There is a risk vs. reward scenario that we all play out when deciding to interact with an online advertisement. If we rely too heavily on the website destination to do our talking, we will likely find that no one will be around to listen.”

Scott Meldrum

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10 User Centered Design blogs you ought to read

Just thought I’d share my favorite UCD blogs with you. These are sites I read to keep in touch with the research on usability. They also make for very interesting reading.

Experience Dynamics: Frank spiller’s blog is something that every User experience professional should read. Frank has the happy knack to hitting the nail on the head with every post. Very practical info out there.

Boxes and Arrows:  In the words of David Moore, Boxes and Arrows is an “Intelligent peer-written journal on information architecture and user-centered design. Lots of practical information as well as conceptual back-up”.

Seven87: With a unique outlook on usability, marketing and customer experience, Charlie Nichols presents usability in a business environment.

Webword: John S. Rhodes operates the WebWord Blog, providing Continue reading

Web 2.0 Master’s Degree!


Apparently I have earned myself a master’s degree in Web 2.0! You might wanna try it out yourself… its fun. You get to figure out the trademark features of web 2.0 sites. It will make you think for sure!

Information Architecture simplified

Our user experience team in office decided to form a small group that promotes the awareness and usage of usability. With this focus, we got to work brainstorming on the best way to put usability, interaction design and information architecture, in laymen’s terms.

We decided the best way to do this would be to start a newsletter. For the articles, we came up with the theme of “Weave a story”, Continue reading

Free icon sets, fonts for the designer

Take a look at these resources of free icon and font sets.  Its the designer’s proverbial pot of gold. Whats more… there are pointers to places where you can find even more.


Silk Icons: “Silk” is a smooth, free icon set, containing over 700 16-by-16 pixel icons. There are a large variety of icons, you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy. The USP of this iconset is that they are too neat to ignore.

Sweetie Icons: Another adorable set of pixel icons with the relevant photoshop files included. 

Continue reading