There's a lot of psychology involved in the creation of a successful website. A quick search yields various conversations on emotional responses, different parts of the brain, and so on. But if you're looking for a simpler explanation, Dr. Susan Weinschenk from Human Factors International recently put together a great video of 7 basic tips worth noting. 

(Check out the complete white paper.)

Here's how they breakdown: 

1. If People Have Too Many Choices, They Won't Choose At All

Psychologist Barry Schwartz spoke to to this subject in a TED talk I'll never forget. In his opinion,  the number of choices we're given on a regular basis has crippled us. Instead of feer, we are more paralyzed. Instead of happier, we are more dissatisfied.  

Weinschenk agrees:  "What we know is people will tell us they want lots of choices...but if you give them too many choices they'll freeze and not make a decision at all."

2. Social Validation

What do you do when you're uncertain about a choice? Most seek the opinion of others. This is why testimonials and ratings are becoming increasingly important. The more information about a company or product available, the quicker we are to judge its validity in the marketplace and our lives. 

In fact, Weinschenk says reviews from peers tend to be more influential than those from experts, or recommendations from the website itself. 

3. Scarcity = More Value

This should be a familiar concept. When there is less of something, people will feel more inclined to buy it. Think about how you feel when you're doing a bit of online shopping and the site says there's only two pairs of shoes in the size and color you're looking for left in stock. You want them more, right? Somehow, by spending money, you're getting a deal. 

Groupon and other popular deal sites do this in a different sort of way by putting a time limit on their offerings. I don't know about you, but watching that clock countdown to zero makes me feel like I have a limited number of minutes to save money-- even though it requires spending it. 

You can try out the scarcity tactic by limiting the number of 'seats' in a webinar, or advertising a number of days left to sign up for your monthly newsletter before the cycle starts over again. 

4. Food, Sex and Danger Will Always Demand Attention

Obviously this one depends on what kind of site you have, but the idea is that using these kind of images or messages, they're very powerful triggers for action. 

5. Power of Faces

Research show our brains are predisposed to pay attention to faces. James Breeze of UsableWorld put together a little piece that used the Tobii T60 eye tracker to show where people look when they look at a website: 


The results are obvious. Even children focus on faces. If you've got people on your site, make sure they're looking directly at the camera, as people tend to focus on the eyes. 

6. Stories

Research shows our brain usually processes information best when it's in story form. This was a big topic at this year's eMetrics conference in San Francisco. First, we were asked to consider how toddlers react to storytelling. Generally, you can pick any picture book off the shelf, make up the words and they're happy. Next, we were told to apply the same way of thinking to analytics and CMOs. 

“As long as you tell them a positive story, it almost doesn’t matter what format you present it in, claimed Brandon Bunker, Sr. Manager of Analytics at Sony. 

“It’s not because they don’t find analytics interesting," defended Michael Metz of Cisco. "The last thing I need when I have a question is data. I need a business strategy and the implications and what the real story is.”

7. Commitment

Don't be afraid of it, and don't be afraid to ask people for it.  Very small commitments, such as subscribing to a newsletter or becoming a Facebook, fan can grow over time, increasing loyalty. 

Got any comments or ideas to add? Drop them in the comment area below and let's get a conversation going.