The power of persuasive digital design
“So, you’ve got people to your website. Now it’s down to your power of persuasion. “Persuasion is the influence of beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations or behaviours. Persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person’s (or a group’s) attitude or behaviour toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s), by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination of them.” Wikipedia
The offline world has been using persuasion techniques for many years, especially in retail, but few are applying this to full effect in digital design.
But to us, persuasive design techniques are a vital part of Code’s offer and what sets our digital solutions apart. It can be the difference between a good website and a fantastic website.
Using a PET (Persuasion, Emotion and Trust) toolkit we take our design beyond good usability.
OVERVIEW OF PERSUASION, EMOTION AND TRUST (PET)
In short PET is about the use of social psychology in design to influence viewer decisions and behaviour. The toolkit has been pioneered by Human Factors Inc. It is a methodology for making user experiences more engaging, compelling and effective.
There are more than 50 techniques, but don’t worry – we’re only going to touch on the most important ones in this Knowledge Bank.
PET design complements classic usability and user experience best practice, adding a layer of psychology to “gently nudge” potential customers towards your stated goal.
In a multi-layered approach, persuasion techniques relate to the mechanics – the triggers to an action; emotion techniques are about eliciting a desired emotional response during a process; while trust techniques are for establishing credibility, providing assurances and removing risk.
A LOOK AT SOME PET TECHNIQUES IN DETAIL
Some of the key persuasion techniques we apply include:
Consistency – We like to maintain consistency between what we think, say and do. So for example, ask someone to state a position, declare his or her intentions or show a small gesture of support. Then as their journey progresses, they will generally act in a manner consistent with their first action even if a subsequent request asks them to make a much larger commitment.
Framing – Our perception is influenced by the information we are presented. For difficult or important concepts, wrapping the action in a story can make it easier to understand and more persuasive.
Scarcity – I want now what I may not be able to get in the future. It’s amazing the effect inferring value in something that has limited availability or promoting it as scarce can have on goods or with time-based offers. But this does come with a warning – overuse can de-value this technique.
Social Proof – When uncertain we’re more likely to take cues from other people and do things that we see others doing.
When it comes to emotion, there are additional principals that apply:
Visceral processing – We immediately react to pleasing visual stimuli. Add surprise, delight and playful elements to create an emotional bond with your audience. These can brighten up routine tasks and feel like rewards when discovered.
Behavioural processing – If something works in a way we already know, it feels easier and we like it more.
Aesthetic usability – Aesthetically pleasing designs are often perceived to be easier to use. Opinions based on visual stimuli happen very quickly – first impressions do count and have a halo effect.
Optimal level of challenge – We like to be challenged and tested, but not too much.
Social contagion – Our emotions are affected by the actions of those we see around us.
Goal setting – We are compelled to strive to achieve a goal if it is achievable.
Knowledge of results – We continue our actions if we are shown evidence of their success.
And so to the final element of PET design, trust. Trust is influenced by a combination of factors that act as Trust Markers:
Certifications – We trust established, certified organisations and trademarks.
Technology – We always expect technology to work, trust is damaged if it does not.
Design quality Current, up to date content – indicates freshness and responsiveness.
Famous people and common people
We trust recommendations that are not in self-interest
DOES IT REALLY WORK?
The best way we can answer this question is by showing an example of the results we’ve had for our clients. Take First TransPennine Express for example.
We’ve worked with First TransPennine Express for a number of years and have taken their site from a reference site to an e-commerce site bringing in more than 26% of their total revenue through bookings.
This year alone overall online ticket sales are up by 86% and the conversion rate on the site increased by 49% YOY.
In addition to re-designing the website by applying our best practice PET principals we’ve enhanced the consumer experience with innovative mobile solutions.
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