Information Architects & User Experience Designers use simple psychology to attempt to predict behavior. The idea is to present information to the user in a stream of consciousness sort of way. If we are giving users what they need before they even have to think about it, it puts them at ease and makes them more likely to take the next step. ie: buy a widget, add a friend, read more.
"For the most part, we create Web sites to get users to do something—for example, to make a purchase, donate to a cause, or sign up for our service. It is our expectation that users will make decisions about how to proceed. But are we designing for optimal decision making by users?"
-Colleen Roller, Decision Architecture: Helping Users make Better Decisions
Think about the last time you went grocery shopping. You were buying peanut butter...you walked a few steps after grabbing your crunchy Jif and you saw rows of jelly. “Oh yeah, I need jelly too!” This is a simple example of how the grocery store has tried to predict what you might need after you pick up your peanut butter.
Targeted ads work in much the same way. Have you ever been on facebook & seen an ad for something that is right up your alley? “How did they know I was into that?” Most folks put it together but if you haven’t already; it’s b/c you told them in your profile that you were really into running marathons so now Nike running shoes are being targeted to you. It’s simple but fabulously effective.
Place relevant ads in front of a targeted audience. Place obvious next steps in the path of the user.
What might make me feel better about making my purchase?
User Experience Designer: Place customer testimonials on page.
User: “This other guy that bought this same widget says this was the best purchase he’s made all year and he had really good customer service. It must be good.”
What might make me feel as though I need to make my purchase today?
User Experience Designer: Place inventory tracking on page. Place Free Shipping & Free Returns callout next to Add to Cart button.
User: “They only have 8 widgets left in stock. I’ve been wanting one of these...I better go ahead & get it.” or “They offer Free Shipping & Free Returns, that’s nice. So if it doesn’t work, I can send it back without a hassle or added expense.”
If I’m shopping for a widget, what might I want to look at next?
User Experience Designer: Place related products & accessories around current product.
User: “Oh look, there’s widget oil for my widget! I should probably go ahead & stock up on that while I’m here.”
A Happy Customer will buy more, recommend you to their friends & come back. A Frustrated User will leave and they'll tell their friends about their bad experience.
A good user experience is essential to conversion. If you give users an excuse to leave your site whether it be because they are confused or because they don’t feel comfortable making the leap...they will leave every time. Frustrated people don’t buy widgets. The only products or services that can consistently sell with no user experience considerations are items that people can’t live without. And even then...these places probably won’t get repeat business...they’ll get one order and that user will find another solution next time. A good experience will also create loyal followers.
Of course I’m not talking about you...but people are, as a whole, lazy
Don’t make them think. Don’t stress them out. Make their experience smooth, painless & downright fun and you’ll have a customer for life. Bad or good you can bet they’ll post it on facebook, twitter, yelp & google plus before they step away from their desk. A well thought out user experience design can make sure you’re business is getting hype for the right reasons.