Book Review: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

I couldn’t pass up Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? by Susan Weinschenk, inasmuch as it combines several of my interests – neuroscience and marketing, specifically Web marketing. In this book, Weinschenk mines some of the same veins I do at Neuromarketing as she applies both neuroscience and behavioral research to specific web design issues.

One of the neuromarketing maxims emphasized by Weinschenk is social proof. We know that we are more likely to buy a product or take some other action if we know that others are doing the same thing. She spends quite a bit of time talking about the best way to implement ratings and reviews. Used correctly, this user-generated content can increase sales by the process of social validation. She cites a 2007 study by DeVries and Pruyn that showed a 20% boost in sales of digital cameras when user recommendations were present, and a boost of 10 – 20% for vacation sales.

While much of the social proof effect occurs unconsciously, Weinschenk thinks that Web marketers can appeal to our logical, conscious side by incorporating elements like detailed statistics (e.g., “77.3% bought this product”) as well as other elements like bar graphs.

Reciprocity is another topic that receives an entire chapter. As I described in Collecting Visitor Info: Reward vs. Reciprocity, giving a visitor something of value to them increases their inclination to do something to reciprocate, e.g., provide you with their email address.

Neuro Web Design is a short book, a mere 147 pages that incorporate many screen shots and other graphic material. The production values in the book are a weak point, with quite a few of the illustrations appearing dark and lacking in contrast. On the plus side, one gets free access to an online version of the book with the purchase of a hard copy.

A lot of what Weinschenk recommends may seem obvious to experienced web marketers. Of course testimonials and reviews help, of course ads that move get your attention… but as with any thoughtful strategic process, if you think about a web site design in the context of Weinschenk’s suggestions, you’ll almost certainly find ways to improve it and make it more effective in garnering clicks and conversions. Any web marketer or designer responsible for creating sites that convert (or fixing sites that aren’t converting) will benefit from Weinschenk’s insights.

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