Persuasion is a basic human skill we pick up at a very ripe age, often starting by persuading our parents to fulfill our tantrum of the hour as mere toddlers. What most people fail to realize is that persuasion goes well beyond human interaction, and plays a vital role in the landscape of the World Wide Web. Even when you're presenting your own opinion over the internet or offering a product or service to people over the web, you are trying to persuade them and convert them (either into a believer or a buyer!). As is the case with persuading someone face-to-face, you will need to get your target audience to trust you, and tap into their emotions.
The science of persuasion is critical to web design, because a website that doesn't persuade is a website that doesn't convert. Here are a few key standards to designing for persuasion, emotion, and trust:
An in-your-face approach is almost never the way to go if you're trying to persuade someone to adopt your opinion or purchase something. If you come on too strong, you'll end up turning your target audience off. You have to be a lot more subliminal in your approach, gently nudging your audience towards what you're peddling - be it an idea, a product, or a service.
People like to make informed decisions once they have sufficient data, so make sure you provide them with all the pertinent information they could possibly require and that the delivery is clean, clear, and concise.
Humans are, by nature, visual beasts. We find graphics to be much more interesting than text, and so incorporating your fair share of graphical elements in your website's design will help engage your audience, tap into their emotions, and, ultimately, convert them.
People are provably more likely to be successfully persuaded by someone (or something) they trust. Through your website and web content, you need to engage your audience and appeal directly to them so that they may begin to trust what they're seeing on their screen.
Inherently, the only opinions human beings fully trust are the ones they form on their own. As such, you should be guiding your audience towards the conclusion you want them to see, and allowing them to form their own opinion with the information you have provided to them. You are simply going to have to trust (ironic, isn't it?) that you have given the audience enough information in a legible manner for them to form an opinion that is in your favor.
We here at Creative Services incorporate all of these principles (and more!) into our web design practices, creating websites and web content that convert.
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