Neuro Web Design


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.

  1. Zachary Constantine says

    Interesting – Michael Weisburgh of PILOTed covers the same ground in What I Learned Buying a Rug in Turkey (and, not coincidentally, I’ve observed that these tactics aren’t so uncommon amongst manipulative people).

  2. Naomi Niles says

    Oh man, I’m going to have to get this one. It’s ok though, it’s not like I’ve already got a million books in my wish list to get through. 🙂

  3. Laura says

    You can put a margin around the image you add to your post. That way your text won’t be stuck right to the side of it.

    When you mention reciprocity you seem to be saying the point of having a site is to harvest email addresses. How about just the feedback, the connection or the interaction? I don’t keep email addresses or look for subscribers. I just like the odd comment so I don’t feel I’m only talking to myself all the time.

    One thing that bugs me about corporate/ business sites is that you have to dig to find a way to give them feedback and they don’t have anything to really bring you to their site. I think that is changing, evolving, as they do see the internet as an exchange of information versus creating an ad without any real give and take.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      We’re working on a theme change, Laura. That margin issue affects only some browsers, but it will be addressed shortly.

      I agree that corporations need to look at their websites, and the Internet in general, as a conversational vs. broadcast medium.


  4. rocky says

    A web design must possess an innovative, eye-catching, visually engaging colors, arrangement, and substance. Try visiting online travel agency websites. The best one would be the one that allows you to click through the features, pictures of popular tourist destinations, the one that gives you a virtual tour of a cruise ship, or the one that can take you from one page to the other with a simple click.

    Even so, the plainness or the intricacy of a website depends upon the choice of the website or business owner. The style of the website is only one aspect among the many aspects that bring in traffic. What really counts is the user-friendliness of a website, plus of course, the significance of its substance. Web traffic will be greatly augmented and sustained if the website makes sense and it is pleasant to look at. If the web traffic is good, the chances for sales conversion are high, and that would mean good business.

  5. Brian says

    I actually bought this book, and I thought it was a good “intro” to neuro tactics in general. It was a little short on content and the touched upon themes didn’t go too in depth, but it was a decent read that hit upon some good topics.

    It was only 16 bucks so not a bad pick up if you’re relatively new to the field of “neuro” anything. It’s also good for web designers who want to get a better overview in designing their sites.

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