The Key Principles of Persuasive Design

Posted on August 10, 2022 | Updated on August 10, 2022

How do you convince people to buy? Normally, you would use words, show off your confidence and give them an irrefutable reason why they should purchase. However, you can’t accomplish this with persuasive design.

Persuasive design uses a mix of psychology to motivate people to use a company’s product through visual aspects. Here we will explore what it is and the key principles that make up persuasive design.

What Is Persuasive Design?

Persuasive design is a practice designers use to focus on influencing people to buy a certain product or service based on human behavior. In other words, you can use psychological and social theories to persuade customers to make a purchase.

In persuasive design, many businesses often use it in e-commerce, public health and corporate management sectors. 

However, designers can use it in any field to influence human behavior. For instance, media technology such as televised advertisements and poster campaigns has always played a role in persuasion. 

Yet as long as you have a good understanding of your target audience, you can use it to apply these key principles in persuasive design.

5 Key Principles of Persuasive Design

1. Clarity

As humans, we naturally question everything we see for the very first time. You may wonder what that something is and what it can do for you. 

For instance, the first time a visitor comes onto your website, they need to find answers quickly. Therefore, the first things your website needs to answer as soon as a user visits include:

  • What is this website?
  • What can I use it for? Is this what I’ve been looking for?
  • Why should I use it? How is it useful?

Yet, it’s not just your homepage that needs to answer these questions — all of it, including your about and product pages, need to be clear from the start. That’s why clarity is such an important aspect of persuasive design. Visuals tend to give people a better understanding.

In fact, research shows that the human brain can process visual information 60,000 times faster than words. 

2. Visual Appeal

As soon as your visitors understand they’re in the right place and are interested in your offer, you can draw them in further with visual appeal.

First impressions are everything. Users can form an opinion about your site within under a second, which is where they determine whether they want to leave or stay.

Visuals play a major role in influencing people’s first impressions. If you can provide a good first impression by keeping it simple and using conventional layouts, you’ll hold a higher chance of getting a good impression.

3. Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is one of the most important principles in persuasive design. Ranking certain parts of your website can help direct users’ attention and provide opportunities to guide them along the way. 

Essentially, visual hierarchy leads users down to the main goal of the website page without taking away their sense of control. This key principle is also known as “tunneling” in persuasive design. 

Theoretically, tunneling guides your users through a decision process — which you can accomplish by removing unnecessary functionality and distracting their attention to help them complete the process. 

4. Attention

As you guide your users with visual hierarchy, you know you’ve got their attention already. However, holding their attention for as long as possible is important. 

Images of people and the use of contrast are a great way to hold users’ attention. People always like to look at other people – and with the help of contrast – it’s a surefire way to grab their attention.

Another element that works is by surprising them with the unexpected. If you’ve got an interesting visual, you can conserve users’ attention and use a compelling headline to draw them into the copy. 

Another thing to remember is that the human eye always attempts to recognize patterns. Once it identifies one, it’s hard to ignore. Therefore, it’s critical to avoid patterns by stylizing text, breaking text apart and adding eye paths.

5. Call-to-Action

One clearly defined CTA (call-to-action) is all you need to get users to the end goal of the page. While it’s perfectly okay to use a secondary CTA, you’ll want to make one of them primary, so you don’t confuse your users. 

People can feel intimidated when you present them with too many options. Therefore, you’ll want to provide them with a trigger that’s easily identifiable. 

Knowing when to place the CTA is key, though. Throughout their journey, it’s crucial to hit the right emotions at the right time with the customers. 

For instance, if you’re selling a complex product — providing more information helps users decide whether they’re ready to take action. Once you’ve given all of the necessary information, that is where you can finally present the trigger. 

Implementing the Key Principles

Influence user behavior by using persuasive design. You have various ways to execute it. However, implementing these key principles gives you what you need to keep your website convincing. 

Therefore, when starting a new design project, it helps to keep these in mind. 

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