Persuasive design and the invasion of human minds!

The commercial age commenced in the early twentieth century with Bernays’s discovery that you could market to people’s unconscious feelings and desires. We were for once and all part of just one religion, that is ‘comfort’. The Internet happened and it used this to conquer our minds. In the last few years, there has been a behaviour hack from the side of the technology. How we are driven to the same websites and apps repeatedly, how we depend upon using these technologies during an emotional surge and how we spend umpty time in these technologies unconsciously.

The design industry who makes these apps unforgettable to us uses certain persuasive patterns to conquer our minds.Once Mark Manson said in his book that,

“People don’t make decisions based on truth or facts. They don’t spend their money based on data. They don’t connect with each other because of some higher philosophical truth. The world runs on feelings!”

The design world knows this fact and works based on it. They have empowered the designers with some magic design patterns with which feelings of the users work rightfully in proportion to the desires of the makers. The first Impressions are 94% design related.  Persuasive designs make these impressions.

What is Persuasive design?

Persuasive design is a technique used to persuade human beings into doing a desired or positive action while using a product or a website. Persuasive design can improve user experience by making a site easy to use—it understands psychological triggers, the behaviour of users and engages them.  

If given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain. We would like you to stop and acknowledge our beautifully designed content written for you. Yes, honoured! Where were we? Persuasive design you see! The users often attach the word ‘Persuasion’ to other words like manipulation and trick, but for designers’ persuasive designs are the ones which sell! Few shopping websites deploy this pattern into their landing pages where they basically provoke the customer towards buying a product in sale by adding an additional line like your product in the cart is at half of its previous selling price.

Perception of Control

Designers use the latest research in psychology to enhance the impact of their designs. The users like to be felt important and knowing this the designers deploy perception of control in the hands of the users in their designs. All human beings feel a need to have control and this can be better explained through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It talks about different needs like self-actualization, esteem needs, social needs, safety needs and psychological needs.

Designers use elements in their designs to fulfill these needs of their users. Often certain apps give you this option to filter out the exact product that you want from the others. They give you options like to choose your price, material, color etc while you purchase. When users are in control, they feel that they are in charge and are further motivated to stick on to such designs. These techniques place a value to the users and fulfill needs like self-esteem and social needs.

‘People ignore design that ignores people’

-Frank Chimero

Motivation including two other factors crucial to psychology and design is raised by Fogg in his behavioural theory. A behaviour in a person according to this theory happens when a person is motivated, has the ability to take part in the behaviour, and is presented with a trigger. In marketing, motivation is used to persuade towards a desired action. For example, after the users peek into the landing page, it is important for the user to stay around the sales funnel. Motivation is like an emotional backdrop that creates a desire for the user to stay and continue action in the landing page. 

After motivation, ability is the next factor that adds to the persuasion process. Ability includes affordability and accessibility of a user to stick on to designs. For example, a company with a cost prohibitive brand ideal should make affordability to be the focal point of the ad that is placed right after the landing page. This reassures the ability of the user to participate in the conversion process.Finally, the trigger element is the most attention-grabbing factor a design should have.

Trigger only happens based on the user’s perception of the call-to-action elements in a design. Trigger can also be enabled if the designers see a statement worth scaring the users. Statements like one last hour for the offer to end, 15 early birds can get free products or design elements like a sand clock or a time clock ticking can be used as tricks to leverage perception of scarcity. This also leverages a perception of FOMO in the users and hence they end up becoming conversions.

Designers use Eye quant technique and heat maps to persuade

‘Design based on data brings us back to its essence & will leave out all unnecessary decoration’. 

-Jeanne De Bont

Eye quant is an AI for instance objective analysis of designs especially for web and mobile interface, Eye quant stimulates an actual eye tracking study each time a designer analyses a design without spending any time in resources to do so. It gives instant feedback which is 85% as accurate as an actual user study. It tells the designer if the key elements that he has placed in the design are actually visible to the user or not. It also tells if the design is cluttered or evenly done

This technique uses a predictive algorithm that helps in tracking the eye movements of the user and the algorithm is a result of actual user data analysis. The data was collected from millions of visibilities and perception-based data points from actual humans. Perception based elements like layout, colour, contrast, size and faces are identified to influence attention of the users. Together the user studies and the machine learning will enable eye quant to predict where the users will look in the first few seconds of landing in the designs

 Heatmaps are visual representations of data. It is a quantitative user research tool that is colour coded to identify user behaviour like the places where the users might look, the extent to which they scroll down in a design and also their click points. Heat maps allow designers to get immediate objective feedback on their designs. They should be used at the discovery phase of the conversion rate optimization campaign. It is meant to inform AB tests on the changes and the functionality to match user’s preferences. Both these techniques help the designers to know the efficiency of their designs and can be validated of their UX designs.

Memetic desire theory

This theory validates the fact that human beings like to have everything that their fellow mates have. The idea of social media influencers has also rooted from the same fact. If a person does not own something that his fellow mate has, then he no longer feels belongingness in this world. In the case of social media influencers, they set the trend for youngsters on what they should have and what they should not bother about having. Human beings try to mimic fellow mates by doing the exact same thing to get validation. Therefore, designers use tools like testimonials and expert social proof in their designs so that the users feel a need to get their hands on the product that the design is trying to sell.

The Extended influence of Psychology over Design in the Future

The design industry is getting closer to the process of understanding the complexities of a human brain using advanced technologies. Few technologies are already made available like headsets that read our brainwaves. This simply means that the industry is trying to simplify their way towards reaching the actual thoughts of the people to use it in designing. This also makes it crucial for the designers to benchmark their moral responsibilities. Persuasive design is a greater tool in designing unless it’s not misused.