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The Role Of Psychology In E-Commerce Web Design January 26, 2021

Each time you visit a website, in particular an e-commerce site, it will have been specifically designed to grab your attention and persuade you to make certain actions.

So it’s not just pretty colours and pictures?

No, certainly not.

Every webpage (or at least those made by smart online retailers) is carefully thought out for maximum results. Whether we realise it or not, a huge number of psychological factors come into play every time we purchase something online.

So by understanding how the brain works and how these psychological factors influence consumer buying decisions, you can better design your e-commerce website for success.

That’s why we’re going to take a look at the role of psychology in e-commerce web design, so you can improve your e-commerce customer experience and boost your sales.

People prefer images and visuals

Images and visuals are more than just nice to look at. These can be used to grab attention, quickly relay information and engage consumers. This is because our brains can process images 60,000 times faster than text. This means they are usually the first thing that someone notices on a webpage.

So as well as including images and infographics on a website, brands have increasingly begun adding videos to their pages. This is because these are both audio and visual and they require less work from the viewer.

And the results speak for themselves! A study found that viewers remember 95% of a message if they’ve watched it in a video, compared with just 10% when reading it. This is because videos and images utilise mirror neurons in our brain and we put ourselves in the position of the people we’re looking at.

This is exactly why you might find yourself sobbing at certain scenes in a rom-com or sad movie! And these rules can be applied to e-commerce web design too.

Colours have certain connotations that can elicit feelings

When choosing a colour scheme for a website or company branding, there needs to be some careful consideration. Colours have a number of connotations and they can affect the mood and behaviour of visitors.

What do we mean by this?

To explain this a little better, we’ve put together a few examples of some of the most common colours below.

However, it’s worth noting that the way people react to colour will also be based on their personal experience so there is no blanket approach. That said, here are a few words that are often used to describe feelings elicited by certain shades:

  • Red – heat, power, energy, passion, anger
  • Blue – cool, calm, trust, peace
  • Green – nature, health, luck, jealousy
  • Yellow – happiness, positivity, joy, clarity
  • Pink – sweet, playful, feminine, romantic
  • Black – power, luxury, elegance, sadness, mystery

So by knowing the role that colour plays in behaviours and by understanding your target audience, you can more effectively choose your brand’s colour scheme.

Often less really is more

We are constantly bombarded with information in today’s always-on culture. This means that our brains are always taking in visuals, news and information. Eventually, this can be overwhelming, which is why people tend to prefer smaller, bitesize chunks of information as this is easier for them to absorb.

After all, our brains can only process so much information at any one time, so it’s important not to overwhelm visitors. Headings, sub-headings, bullet points and visuals are all ways to break up text and information.

In the case of an e-commerce site, less is more! Short snippets of content can help users quickly skim information to find exactly what they’re looking for, without being overwhelmed or leaving the page.

Digital breadcrumbs can stop our brains from wandering

Did you know, our minds are wandering at least 30% of the time? This is because wandering helps our brains rest for a while.

This explains why we get distracted so often online. You know what it’s like, you’re trying to read a helpful article or watch an educational video and suddenly 20 minutes have passed and you’ve wasted that time watching funny dog videos on YouTube.

So, when an e-commerce website is being designed, mind-wandering is factored in. This is often why sites will provide lots of easy ways to draw the visitor back in. For example, simple navigation bars, Calls to Action (CTAs) and images. These are like little breadcrumbs set out to grab your focus back to the e-commerce site.

Categories help us make sense of information

Our brains naturally like to put information into little boxes or categories. This makes it easier to understand and get at later should we need it. This is why categories and navigation bars on an e-commerce site do so much more than just alert you to what is being sold.

Filtering options make it even easier for our brains to understand and quickly find what we’re looking for. This is why often e-commerce sites will group products by price, size, age range, colour and a number of other helpful categories. This has additional benefits for SEO, which has its own set of phycological factors to consider.

This saves the consumer time when finding items or content but also means their brain doesn’t have to put in the extra work trying to categorise content itself. It is also better for the overall user experience.

People love stories

Last but not least, everyone loves a good story!

A story can cause us to feel emotions such as empathy, happiness and trust. It can also be used to grab attention and help information to stick in your mind.

This is often why brands will have an ‘about’ page on their e-commerce site. It gives authenticity and personality to the brand and can help to build customer relationships.

Not only this but often testimonials or reviews from other customers are incorporated on the site. This is because we are more likely to trust something that has been reviewed by one of our peers. We can also relate to their needs or situation which can help to determine whether these goods or services will also be right for us.

This is why e-commerce sites weave stories into their webpages and visuals in many different ways.

Written by Stuart Cooke, Blog Editor at a courier comparison site based in Belfast working with ecommerce companies all over the world.

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