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a blog about the links between ux design and cognitive sciences.

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PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSUASION

december 17/ux design, psychology

It’s a motto here, but I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of psychology in order to understand how the human mind works to get their attention and to design compelling user experiences.

Today, I’m going to tackle the invisible forces that influence and persuade people. And when to use them in your design to get more people to say yes to what you’re asking. This subject has been theorized in 1984 by a psychologist named Robert Cialdini. He brought out 6 principles after observing real life situation of persuasion.

#1 RECIPROCITY

The first principle he highlighted is the reciprocity one. It’s based on the fact that people tend to feel more inclined to give something when they have been offered something before.

In UX, you can apply this by giving away free information or tools to your users. For instance Justinmind.com proposes free prototyping tools for free. And when the users click to download them, they must first give what you want : their information.

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#2 COMMITMENT

This second principle relies on the fact that if people commit to an idea or goal, they tend to be motivated to honour that commitment.

To take advantage of behavioral consistency, get your users to make an initial commitment to an activity you want them to engage in. Fitbit uses visuals of past behavior paired with motivational copy to encourage users to a) wear their Fitbit more, and b) log their activity more often.

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#3 SOCIAL PROOF

People are guided by other people’s behavior, so we can represent the actions, beliefs, and advice of the crowd in a design to influence users. It’s a mean to legitimize our behaviour by reproducing those of others.

Customer reviews and testimonials are one of the most popular ways to exploit this aspect of persuasion. That’s why facebook, twitter, tripadvisor and others work really well. Another example is shown when Amazon uses a space to present “the frequently bought together” products and the “customers who bought this also bought” insert which guide the belief and the behaviour of users.

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#4 AUTHORITY

A perceived high-authority status of the person making a request can make people more compliant with that request. Applying this principle in UX can ease users' decision-making process and increase the credibility of their designs. To take advantage of that principle, Rocketlawyer.com shows photos of people in authority positions and logos of reputable organizations.

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#5 LIKING

People prefer to say “yes” to individuals and organizations they know and like. Same goes for websites and other user interfaces.

It stands on the fact that similarity and familiarity are reassuring to people so they tend to prefer those. If they are like me, they are surely good people, and if they are good people, they must be like me.

Stelladot.com uses the principle of the tupperware party and the influence that friends have on each others to sell their products. They create a positive impression on people through their website colour-scheme, design and pictures of friendly groups of woman.

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#6 SCARCITY

That last principle stand on the fact that people are more likely to want something if supply is limited. Feeling that there is only one chance can convince people to take action sooner, sometimes without careful consideration of consequences or alternative options. Groupon takes advantage of this behavioral trigger by using a clock and a red flame to represent the limited time and supply remaining.

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Conclusion

If you want your designs to accomplish business goals, you must become a master at persuading and influencing users. Using the 6 triggers outlined above, you’ll be able to design experiences that turn strangers into leads and sales.

REFERENCES

  • Robert Cialdini: Influenceatwork
  • Nielsen Norman: Persuasive design
  • Slideshare: User Psychology