Understanding how to convince users to take a desired action is a struggle companies always face. We try tactics based upon feelings, guesses, and in the best cases, fragmented qualitative data, but all too often, these changes don’t give us the results we want.
Surprisingly, studies have found that users don’t spend time deliberately thinking about and analyzing everything they see and read. In actuality, they operate mostly on auto-pilot, making decisions based on the subconscious and the emotions they feel in the moment.
In other words, if people are mindlessly browsing, you will traditionally have a harder time persuading them, but if they are in desperate need of something, chances are it will be easier.
With users all across the emotional and cognitive spectrum visiting your site, what are the best ways to increase conversions -- especially if users aren't actually reading your content?
In this article, I’ll go over six no-word persuasive design strategies (and examples) you can implement to subconsciously guide users to the right places on your site and get them to convert.
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Framing, simply put, is the way someone positions objects around a particular subject to provide focus. The most obvious real-world example is a photo in a wood frame. This creates a clear divide between anything outside the frame while creating boundaries for the image itself and drawing attention to it.
This principle comes in handy when presenting a user with options, when in reality, you want them to take one path in particular.
Strategically distinguishing that option from the others helps users zero in on it (and ideally focus on just action you want).
Depending on the design nuances you use (i.e. shadows, borders, bright colors), you can make it seem like one option is actually more appealing.
At the bottom of the homepage, BubbleWits has two pricing tiers, but strategically puts emphasis on the one on the left by using a white backdrop with a faded image and bold drop shadow.
While BubbleWits clearly wants you to take notice of the one on the left first, it doesn't want you to forget about its other plan altogether.
To prevent this, they added a small ‘pointing hand’ widget that moves up and down every couple seconds. This instinctively draws the eye to consider the other plan, but only after considering the one on the left.
For those of us with long conversion paths, it can be unnerving to visitors if the steps that need to be taken aren’t clear.
UberHealth made sure this wasn’t the case by providing a step-by-step list aside its form so the user understands exactly what the conversion process looks like. The step you’re on is highlighted in blue.
Also, as you complete the form, any errors or missed fields turn red immediately to get your attention. Correctly filled fields turn green, and if all are correct, the blue ‘Next’ button fades into a darker blue, cueing the user to continue to the next step.
3. Have One Clear Action
With the variety of pages on your site, it’s easy to end up with too many places for your users to go. Although this gives the user options, it deters them from converting on the things you really want them to.
The solution to this goes back to considering the page, its purpose, and what the logical next step for users should be.
Zapier uses a deep orange for their main ‘sign up’ call-to-action which is carried throughout the homepage.
This consistency and reintroducing the button again in different sections helps make it easy for the user to convert when they are ready later on down the page.
4. Designing for the Gut and Head
The human brain makes decisions in complex ways. This is largely due to the drivers that inhibit that decision making - two mental models acting in parallel.
The two modes are called Gut and Head, terms coined in Daniel Gardner book The Science of Fear.
“Gut processing is sophisticated, intuitive, and quick” and typically uses more emotions. “Head processing, on the other hand, is analytical, slow, and rational” and requires the user to take a more educated approach.
So when you are showing a user data to affirm a choice they may make, it’s not enough to think that alone will gain their approval. If the Gut feel it does not have a strong enough emotional impact, that may be the reason a user does not convert.
This means it’s important to consider both these modes in the design process. Learning what elements, imagery, or layouts that help satisfy both the analytical and emotional modes is key to a high converting page.
There is no better way to tap into human emotion than with real imagery that triggers stories or memories.
In this homepage from The Red Cross, users are presented with a worker embracing another person while a fire truck looms clearly behind them.
It immediately makes you wonder what happened, evoking concern for the scene. Without having to read any words, you get the idea that The Red Cross is the hero. This helps encourage trust subconsciously in the mission of the organization and lets you know they really do help.
5. Using Contextual Imagery
Nothing makes users angrier than talking about ‘the thing’ without showing them what it actually is.
Users need to know that any points made about a product are actually accurate, otherwise, they’ll start losing trust.
“Maybe the product doesn’t really do that.” “The product probably looks really old.” “That thing is probably in beta.”
One of the most prominent features of Kayako’s live chat is its ability to follow up with users when real people aren’t around to help.
Rather than using content alone to explain that, Kayako uses images of the step-by-step process.
Placing the images close but with enough ‘breathing room’ helps keep the main idea together. The arrows pointing to each screen also encourages scrolling so users understand everything that the bot does.
Chargebee does a really nice job of explaining how their software works using numbers and images of the product.
The sections themselves are void of colors, minus the images of software, so they ultimately hold a lot of visual weight over the written content.
6.Taking Advantage of Seducible Moments
Get your brain out of the gutter.
There are specific times during a user’s journey when they are naturally more likely to take a certain action or do a particular task. It is during these moments, that you should make sure that they can complete them easily.
One of the best examples of this principle is when users have just added something to their cart.
At this point, they have committed to purchasing a product, but still haven't made it past the finish line.
Showcasing particular deals on that item, or showing a coupon code, can be strategic ways to persuade users towards checkout (or even to shop for more products).
Amazon uses seducible moments in a couple of ways after adding a product to your cart.
For instance, below the ‘cart’ box, they first present you with a deal for Prime members to take an additional $20 off your purchase for signing up for a credit card.
For large purchases, presenting this deal right before checkout encourages users to sign up for it to save that much more. The colored text showcasing the discount and small equation really make the offer that much more appealing and real.
The section below that also shows more products similar to the one you added to the cart. This could help users identify a better product if they aren’t confident of the one they added to the cart.
Looking for more keys to boost online conversions?
Drawing from the latest research on neuro-web design and the results of numerous tests, Peep Laja of CXL has unlocked the secret to designing your website to be a lead-generating machine.