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.


Recipe to usability procedures – bookmark this

A treasure trove of information all in one place.

A guide and a checklist for effective usability testing. Useful for veterans and beginners alike. Highly recommended.

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.

Customer Experience… what is it?

Customer Experience… the term gets thrown around quite a bit of late… but what does it mean and how does it translate into a discipline & something that anyone can relate to. So what is customer experience?

Customer experience is the ‘journey’ of the customer through various interactions with an organization and their perceptions therein.

In order to develop the perfect customer experience, the organization would have to
. Understand the customer journey
. Constantly design the right offers for the right customers
. Exceed customer expectations in all interactions
. Aim at pleasing customers by revamping the customer experience regularly

It’s important to note however that to develop a good customer experience, one must be aware of all the experiences on offer to the customer.

13 steps to effective user/stakeholder interviews

I had the good fortune to conduct user and stakeholder interviews with regard to an application that the client had developed 6 months ago. The application was up and running and this project was launched in order to look at streamlining the application and making it more intelligent and easy to use.

This is where I came in… My job was to personally fix interviews with the interviewees. The only problem was that the interviewees belonged to several different countries across the world. I must accept however that I have never a more satisfying experience where work was concerned. It was actually enlightening to speak to so many of these people around the globe.

So here’s how an interview is conducted. Continue reading

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

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

The design curve

When there is a site to design, there are a lot of people who become information architects at the drop of a hat. Everyone considers himself/herself an expert on the topic. All of a sudden the designer becomes a mere puppet and is reduced to someone who simply executes everyone’s ideas in the form of a web page.

Matthew Inman in an article on calls this the design curve. According to him the more the wrong kinds of people get involved with the process, the worse the design gets. Continue reading

User Interfaces in the movies

It’s incredible how Hollywood can completely overhaul reality when it comes to computer screens in movies. Why is it so much easier to use computers in films? It never ceases to amaze me. It’s funny to think that these bloopers are being watched by all those high end developers out there, creating complex applications for a living. It’s even funnier that user experience professionals like so many of us get to run heuristic evaluations right there in our heads. Here are some of the funniest bloopers…

  • The user interfaces in movies are either in 3D or are animated.
  • Code is always being cracked in movies and it always appears as green text on a black background.
  • A computer blowing up signifies a crash of the operating system or the successful upload of a virus onto the system. Continue reading