June 17, 2011 - Comments Off on A Persuasional Experience

A Persuasional Experience

It may be a term I’ve fabricated: the word ‘persuasional’ doesn’t even exist in a dictionary. What I hope it does is describe a vital ingredient in web design that is sometimes poorly considered. In my opinion, creating a ‘persuasional experience’ goes hand in hand with the usability of a website and the overall user experience.

Most of the digital work my team produces is a form of marketing that leads to an enquiry or a sale. An interface which is a delight to use and gets you to information quickly is essential to support a user’s journey. Keeping their attention and delivering the confidence for them to place an enquiry or make a purchase can generate an even greater return. A persuasional strategy  takes time and thought. If the right messages or images are presented to a user at the right time in their journey through a website, conversion can be maximised.

A supermarket chain will meticulously plan the presentation and location of each individual product in their stores. As highlighted recently in the UK news some supermarkets have used offer placement to mislead shoppers and influence their purchasing decision. Although I wouldn’t advocate misleading your audience, the psychology of persuasional messaging and how products and services are presented should be thought about in the same detail online as they are offline.

Ok, so where do you start? I start with who the audience is and their motivations to engage with a company. I think about the criteria that will influence their purchase or enquiry. I then research how the direct competition are addressing these influencers and try to identify where we can create an advantage. Some of the common influencers include:

PRICE: An obvious one. Sometimes, for some users, it isn’t a major concern, but most of the time people are looking for a bargain. Cheapest isn’t always best. Consumers will pay more for an pricey item on sale over a similar, cheaper product as its perceived value is higher. Consumers look for the best quality at the best price. If the product (or service) is expensive, then it needs to be justified in it’s FEATURES or QUALITY.

FEATURES: What are the benefits and features of the product or service, and why are they better than the competition? What is the USP? Which feature/s stands out as an advantage? If a product it isn’t competitive on price then its features should take priority in the design.

QUALITY: A products longevity or the potential satisfaction of using a service can influence a consumers choice. Guarantees, case studies, testimonials and reviews can help strengthen a perception of quality.

TRUST: If the brand isn’t well know or has little reputation, then a consumer needs satisfying that nothing there will be no negative repercussions if they decide to engage with a company. Trademarks and associations can help alleviate some of the fear, but recommendations from people or brands they already trust can deliver valuable re-assurance.

There are more factors that can influence a users decision, but they should always be addressed in relation to what the competition is doing. After all, it is far easier to compare online than it is on the high street or from a phone book.