Web Design and Psychology

The true purpose of your website probably isn’t what you think the purpose of your website is. You imagine that it’s there to show off your products or services to potential customers. Whether it’s a humble poetry blog or a real-estate website, in your mind you probably believe that it’s a place where people can come and take a look at what you do and get in touch to buy from you if they like what they see. That’s part of what a good website is for, but it’s far from the only reason it exists.

The real reason you have a website is to persuade people that they’re better off buying from or interacting with you than they would be if they went to anyone else who does what you do. A good website doesn’t just show people what you have, it also tells them why they don’t need to look elsewhere, and why they should take action now to contact you or make a purchase. Best of all, a good website does all of this without directly saying that’s what it’s doing. That’s all down to psychology – and that’s what this article is all about!

Web designers tend not to be psychologists, but the best web designers have sought input from psychologists in terms of finding out what makes people tick, and how to optimize a page to provide the intended response in someone looking at it. Here are a few of the best tips they’ve picked up.

The Z Shape Principle

When a potential customer first lands on your website, their level of interest in buying from you is probably low. They’re more interested in finding the information they’re looking for than they are in reading what you want to communicate to them. They therefore skim-read your homepage, and scientists tell us that they do so in a Z-shaped pattern. They read across the top paragraph of the top few lines of text, then their eyes track diagonally down to the bottom left-hand corner, and they finish reading to the end of the text they find there. From this, we know that your essential information – the things you really want your customer to know – should be contained right at the start of your article, re-iterated dead-center, and confirmed again during the last line. Consider these spaces your ‘headline news’ spots.

Less is More

Nobody has logged onto your site to read an essay. In fact, they’ve barely logged on to do any reading at all. The average attention span of a human being in 2020 is considerably shorter than it was at the turn of the century. We’ve become so accustomed to flicking or swiping away from things that we’re not interested in that we barely even digest the basics before we decide whether we want to see more. Some scientists have concluded that the average attention span is now less than eight seconds, although those findings have been disputed. We hope the scientists are wrong. If they’re not, it means we now pay attention to what’s in front of us for less time than a goldfish. In web design terms, this means that a text-heavy page is a huge turn-off. If people see a wall of text, they’ll be gone before they’ve read the first line. Use your words sparingly, and make them count.

Visual Cues Work

People are motivated by the images that they see more than they are by the words that they read. If you have any doubt in your mind that this is the case, go to an online slots website and study its layout. Don’t just look at one; check out a few Online Slots UK and see if you can spot a trend. Unless you’ve picked some very unusual sites, what you should have noticed is that there are lots of pictures of online slots (and maybe some videos), but almost no description on the homepage of what those slots are, or how they work. The information will be there if the customer goes looking for it, but the companies that run those online slots websites have concluded that the picture alone tells the customer almost everything they need to know. Based on the staggeringly huge global earnings of online slots websites, they might have a point. Don’t use a paragraph when a picture will do. Illustrate your key points. In fact, illustrate everything if you can. Just be conscious of file size and loading times.

There Are Shortcuts To Gaining Trust

Whatever your website does, there will be a desired action you’d like a visitor to take before they log off it. That might be the full process of making a purchase and handing over their debit or credit card details to you in the process. It might be something less intrusive, like giving you their contact details. Either way, they need to trust you enough to go through that process, and so your website needs to create the right conditions for that trust to exist. Fortunately, there are shortcuts to gaining people’s trust.

The first thing to bear in mind is that an ‘action’ page should be honest and transparent about its purpose. If people feel like they’re being pushed into something or misled, they’ll back away. If you want someone to get in touch with you, they should do it on a clearly-identified contact page. All purchases should be heavily signposted. If you have security software to protect the customer’s contact and bank details, advertise that fact ahead of them entering their details. Small things like that will help the customer feel more secure. As a kicker, make sure your contact details are clearly visible at all times on any page where your customer is required to give you anything, whether that’s their email address or their credit card number. Having your contact information in view is the equivalent of saying, “you can contact me directly if anything goes wrong, and this is how.” People take that information on board even if they’re not conscious of it.

Fonts Communicate More Than Words

The words you use mean something, but do the fonts you type those words in. As it’s 2020, we hope you don’t need us to tell you that Comic Sans isn’t the font of the workplace. It’s a fine choice if you’re making a friendly, conversational blog site, but nobody buys anything from a website written in comic sans. If you’re involved in high-authority business (or you want to come across as if you were a high authority), serif fonts work best for this purpose. They’re a common choice for law firms, and for news websites. Sans serif fonts are a little more conversational, which is why you often see them used as standard on social media websites. They’re also becoming a common choice for technology websites. Work out your desired tone and then choose a font that fits it.

None of these tips guarantee you as much as one single sale, but if followed correctly, they’ll get you closer to that sale than you are right now. Web design isn’t just about making a page that looks good – it’s about making a page that persuades a customer to engage with you. We hope you have a clearer picture of how to do that now you’ve read our advice!