Sometimes you visit a website and start to feel excited. Other times, you visit a site and feel “meh”. If your website is less than thrilling, and is turning your site visitors into zombies desperate for something better, please read on!
Website design is not just about creating an aesthetically beautiful site, nor is it limited to explaining your products and services. Rather, it’s about accomplishing multiple objectives, most importantly, making sure your site visitors get what they want out of the experience.
As a key element of that experience, it’s important to ensure that you are rewarding them emotionally during their visit. Emotional rewards come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and here are some of the most impactful.
1. Cognitive Fluency
Our brains are hard-wired to enjoy information processing when it’s easy and intuitive. And so if you’re looking to improve your website performance, you need to focus on improving your site visitors’ ability to immediately and intuitively understand what’s presented and what they should take away from the experience.
“Cognitive fluency” is the measure by which one’s brain processes information. Steve Krug explains in his book, Don’t Make Me Think, website visitors avoid mental heavy lifting, and so it’s critical to make your website as easy-to-understand and easy-to-use as possible.
What’s key to understand about cognitive fluency is that it impacts not only your brain, but how you feel about something. In other words, the sensation of ease or difficulty in our thinking guides us to feel a certain away about it. If your site visitor becomes confused by what’s on your web page, or if they have difficulty figuring out how to find what they are seeking on your site, guess what? A low level of cognitive fluency. Worse, it can result in a poor brand experience, feelings of frustration and even anger, and a negative impression of your brand as a whole.
An easy-to-use site design results in smoother and more efficient processing by the site visitor’s brain, and this in turn makes the site visitor actually feel better while on your site. Even just changing the font of text on a page to something more legible can actually alter people’s judgments about the veracity of the statement.
Aim for a site design that makes ease-of-use a top priority.
Allow your site visitors to discover new insights, and you’ll delight them during their time on your site. Aim to educate them, with an unwavering dedication to giving, giving, and giving some more. It’s one thing to focus on explaining your products, services, and company. It’s quite another to focus on the site visitor, and to empower them with new discoveries.
With discovery, the brain releases Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that the brain produces in signaling feedback for predicted rewards. Dopamine makes us feel good, so a site that guides a visitor to new discovery (releasing Dopamine in the process) can make the visitor feel pretty awesome. It’s why a simple trip to Amazon.com can often become a wild (and fun) exploration of discovery rather than a simple book purchase as you originally intended.
Is your website empowering your audience, making it easy for them to discover something new? For them to feel like they gained value from the experience? For them to walk away with more than when they first arrived?
The more you enable them to achieve a sense of discovery in your site, the more likely you’ll increase their enjoyment and sense of feeling the trip was worth it. To that end, beyond an aesthetically pleasing site, make sure that the site is filled with avenues towards new discovery.
3. Tapping into Aspirations
In the field of neuroscience, there’s a phenomenon called “mirror neurons,” and they can play an important role in guiding your site visitors towards taking action.
A team of scientists in Parma, Italy had implanted electrodes in the brain of a monkey so that they could map the neurons that were controlling the monkey’s movements. Things went a bit haywire as one of the researchers, a grad student, entered the lab with an ice-cream cone. When the monkey watched him bring the cone to his mouth, there was a spike in the monkey’s neural activity. In and of itself, that’s not too astonishing nor noteworthy – after all, the monkey was probably hungry and the brain reacted to seeing food.
However, what makes the event truly remarkable is that the neurons that were set off were the very same ones used to move the monkey’s own body. In other words, the monkey itself seemed to be having the experience of eating ice-cream merely by watching someone else do it.
From a design perspective, what’s important to take away is that your website can not only tell visitors about a better future through your products or services, but can show them visually. Think of an office remodeling company’s website. It would be more powerful to show before and after photos of their work than merely discussing their services and benefits. The same is true for your website, as well.
4. Operant Conditioning & Achievement
Human behavior on a website can be conditioned. The psychologist B.F. Skinner is considered the father of “operant conditioning,” a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments based on specific behaviors exhibited. Through operant conditioning, a person’s brain connects particular behaviors with particular consequences. As such, you can use web design to help condition how site visitors interact with your site.
For example, make them feel a sense of progress by allowing the site visitor to visually see progress along a path towards the completion of a task. If they are taking a survey, display the percentage completed during the survey process. Or, show them the steps and their location within a multi-step process when signing up for an event.
In a B2B website, you’re often talking about a long buyer cycle. Helping your site visitors feel a sense of achievement along the journey is powerful, but can be challenging over such a long timeframe. One of the things that you can do to accomplish this is to provide your site visitors with ample opportunities to complete smaller actions throughout the funnel. It might involve simple actions like downloading content pieces at the top of the funnel, or progressing through an ordered checklist of content, or completing surveys, assessments, or other interactive vehicles later in the funnel.
Fuel Growth through Emotional Marketing
Interested in learning how to inject emotional marketing into your mix to transform your marketing & website results? Give us a shout!
The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns and his team uncovered that the human brain enjoys surprise even more than what the person likes. This is a powerful insight to use in your site design.
You of course want a site that’s highly consistent to enhance usability and cognitive fluency, but injecting surprise here and there (not confusion, but surprise!) can make the site experience more enjoyable, delightful, and memorable.
Think of your favorite novel or movie. Think of pretty much any entertainment that you enjoy. Most likely the storyline includes elements of surprise that move your heart and mind. Deviate from what they are expecting, and you’ll be more likely to grab their attention, drive them to action, and make them remember the experience.
B2B marketers sometimes make marketing quite antiseptic and lacking life. Here’s the deal, though. B2B buyers are of course people just as much as individual consumers, and people of all kinds are driven by the search for pleasure as well as the need for risk avoidance.
To that end, it’s important to make a B2B buyer feel that they are in the right place. If someone visits a B2B website looking for a solution, they want to know whether the site is right for their industry, for their company size, for their location, for their budget, for solving their particular problems, etc. This helps them achieve their objectives, but also reassures them that they are minimizing risk.
Site visitors also want reassurance that your business is trustworthy. Site design that includes key trust factors helps to achieve this. For example, through the display of case studies, client testimonials, industry awards, certifications, association memberships, third-party ratings and reviews, analyst reports, etc., your site visitors feel reassured that they can count on you, just as others have.
Explore options in your website for making sure that site visitors know they are in the right place to achieve their objectives, while concurrently feeling that they are averting any risks.