Persuasive Web Design Audit Sheet: Your Guide to Non-Sucky, Super Persuasive Web Design

My first website was a freak show.

No I am not putting myself down because I like to play victim and fish for compliments in the process. It really was horrendous, with a slider at the top with random stock images and quotes overlaid in comic sans. The header was whipped up in pixlr.com and I thought my clever use of italicized Ariel was the coolest thing since frozen pizzas. Someone even submitted it to r/crappydesign AFTER he signed up to my list….ain’t the world a cool place?

I am doing much better now, thank you very much and even though I have gotten a few comments on the site being too big and pages too long, as long as it converts well I can live with these jabs. #doIlooklikeIcare #youcanlaughallyouwant #Igetsignupsandsaleswitheverypost

Design apparently isn’t the only think I suck at…hello #hashtags!!

 

Your website isn’t a one night stand

If all your focus is on design, colors and fonts, there is a huge risk of it being taken as “just a pretty face” and as much as I like pretty faces, they don’t bring in the dough (not legally at least).

You don’t want your website to be a one night stand.

You want it to be a place of solace, a comforting haven that invites your ideal buyer in, acknowledges their burning pains and holds their hand (and heart) till they feel heard and taken care of. Only then will they type in their precious email address or open their wallet to reward you with their approval.

THAT’S Persuasive web design!

What makes a Website Persuasive?

The following six elements work in unison to make your website backbutton proof. I will explain what each means and then I will share with you The Persuasive Design Audit Sheet based on these elements that you can use to map your existing site or hand over to your designer for reference.

 

  1. Purpose: What is the ultimate purpose of your website? This has two sub-elements:

o   What are you trying to achieve with your website? Are you trying to get leads and signups? Get them to click on ads? Get them to buy right away? Get them to try out the free version?

o   What are you offering your visitors? Why should they bother scrolling down? What is in it for them? What problem does your website solve?

It is mind boggling, how many sites don’t have this sorted. You could scroll down the whole entire home page without knowing what to do and/or what do you get out of this meaningless scrolling exercise.

Two excellent examples of websites that have their purpose clearly defined and prominently displayed are Unbounce and Think Traffic:

 

unbounce

You know Exactly what Unbounce offers and what you get out of it!

 

 

The Purpose and the Required Action are both crystal clear.

The Purpose and the Required Action are both crystal clear.

 

 

  1. Connection: Does your website talk to me, your ideal buyer? Do I feel like you hear my problems and feel my pain? If a visitor does not feel this connection immediately, she will click away faster than England got out of the World Cup. How do you do this?

Use the colors that speak to your ideal buyer, use words that evoke the desired emotions, use images that reflect the results you promise and that they care about. See how Fresh Books is doing it:

 

This is supposed to speak to ONLY non-accountants and it does!

This is supposed to speak to ONLY non-accountants and it does!

 

 

  1. Credibility: Are all the markers of authority and credibility in place? Do I feel like I am dealing with an entity that has solid credentials in whatever they are offering? Can I actually trust them?

See here for more on how to establish yourself as a credible authority.

As an example of a website that has multiple markers of authority and credibility without seeming over the top, check out the Help Scout Home page.

 

 

Testimonials, numbers, logos and even a bold comparison with competitors. This is establishing credibility.

Testimonials, numbers, logos and even a bold comparison with competitors. This is establishing credibility.

 

 

  1. Relevance: Are all the elements on the site (ads, images, graphics etc.) relevant to the theme of the website?

As much as that banner ad for “cheap flights every time everywhere” seems financially attractive, if it doesn’t fit in with your health and fitness site, don’t allow it there. Irrelevant elements on sites look careless, selfish and even spammy!

 

  1. Simplicity & Familiarity: Google tells us that the two most important factors that determine how users perceive a website at the first glance are:

  • How simple it is (Or what Google calls visual complexity)
  • How familiar it is (or what Google calls prototypicality)

Users strongly prefer website designs that look both simple (low complexity) and familiar (high prototypicality).

That means if you’re designing a website, you’ll want to consider both factors. Designs that contradict these two elements could put off the random visitor to the extent that they won’t even bother browsing to see if there are any useful nuggets in there.

A great example of simple and familiar website that are is only visually appealing in their simplicity but also offers massive value is The Skimm:

 

 

Its Simple and To-the Point and tells you exactly what to do.

Its Simple and To-the Point and tells you exactly what to do.

 

 

  1. Uniqueness & Disruption: This may seem like I am contradicting the point above but let me explain how this is different.

Familiar website design is visually appealing and people would stick around long enough to check out the content long enough if the design is familiar. However, if your content, language and value proposition are ALSO prototypical, you will fail to hold their attention beyond the initial hook.

Think of it as a wakeup call.. a jolt…a sudden burst of raw energy that makes them sit up from their crouched screen position and actually take notice.

This could be a shocking image, a bold statement, a burning pain or an outrageous promise.

This could be a before/ after, an Us vs Them, a proposition so unique and outstanding that they can’t help but take notice.

Think of it as a gentle, loving kick-in-the-pants. Two great examples of disruption are at Gymit and ConversionXl:

 

 

Most Gyms would only promise fitness results, look how GymIt is distinguishing them by tapping onto a real fear! Disruptive and unique.

Most Gyms would only promise fitness results, look how GymIt is distinguishing them by tapping onto a real fear!
Disruptive and unique.

 

 

The peeps over at ConversionXL are the masters of online persuasion and their home page uses unexpected copy and disruption in a simple but effective manner.

The peeps over at ConversionXL are the masters of online persuasion and their home page uses unexpected copy and disruption in a simple but effective manner.

 

 

And this is how I am using disruption on my own site:

 

TPR disruption

 

 

So there you have it, the six immutable principals of Persuasive Design.

 

I have also whipped up a handy audit sheet for you that you can use to map your own site. Clickity click below to get it.

 

 The Persuasive Web Design Audit Sheet- Click to Download.

If this post was helpful to you in any way, I would be ever so grateful if you share it with anyone who you think might benefit from it. Karma people Karma!

Sources:

http://research.google.com/pubs/pub38315.html

http://zurb.com/article/816/why-burying-sign-up-buttons-helps-get-mor

http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html

 

 

2 Comments

  1. CS on August 11, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Good information, although with credibility mentioned, I feel I have to mention the disruption example you give from your site. It could do with some TLC in the subheading – “aren’t using” should probably be “Aren’t Using” (if you want it to be uniform with the rest of the sentence), and the heading and subheading make a statement rather than a question, so drop the question mark. Apart from that, good info – thank you

    • bushra.a on August 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks CS and ooopss 😉

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