The Gentle Art of Persuasive Design

Every day each of us engages in some form of persuasion, whether its:

  • Getting that man/woman to give us their phone number at the bar
  • Convincing your husband/wife that it’s their turn to take out the garbage
  • Or coaxing your kid to eat their vegetables.

women said, woman listening to gossipIn advertising, of course, we are very familiar with the goal of getting consumers to buy products, support causes, etc.

At Matrix Group, we persuade our clients to follow a user-centered design process.  This means that we take the goals/needs of users as the basis for all design decisions.  Taking this process a step further, we also need to ensure that these decisions that customers make align with our clients’ strategic goals.  How do we do this?  How do we entice, cajole, convince, PERSUADE, visitors to do what we want them to do?

Principles of Persuasive Design

There are a few principles that we adhere to, that make this decision-making process successful:

1.  Clarity

The first thing we need is clarity from our clients as to what are the most important goals of the organization.  We ask them to list, in order, what the most important success metrics are:  is it gaining new members, selling more products from the store, increased donations?  With this list in mind, we convey a clear value proposition that supports these calls to action.  For example, if the main goal is to sign up new members, we make sure that potential members are presented with content that shows the benefits of membership, are enticed with discounts that are only available to members, testimonials from current members.  We also make sure that the membership signup form is no more than one click away from every page of the site/app.

2. Simplicity

Related to the first principle, simplicity is all about presenting content and calls to action in an easy to digest form.  Rather than loading a page with 5 million links, present just one, or at most a handful, with the most important one easily picked out.  Give content and actions breathing room.  Make their path to conversion an easy to one to follow, with as few steps as possible.

3.  Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy, in design terms, is the order in which the human eye perceives what it sees.  This means making the really important things stand out in terms of color, size, contrast, and placement.  If there’s one thing you want a user to click on, put it closer to the top of the page, make it stand out, and make it very clear what it will do.

By following these basic principles, the art of persuasive design can be used to gently guide your users to where you both want to be, that happy place where the needs of your customers and the goals of your organization both come together.

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