3 brainy web design tricks to increase response

Web design best practices are constantly evolving. But there are some tried-and-true principles that have proven effective for years, across all styles of websites and industries.

A great post by Neil Patel focuses specifically on principles that increase conversion rates based on the rules of behavioral psychology.

Here are 3 of those principles and a neat case study that shows why they work.

1) The Law of Prägnanz

This German-based principle, which essentially translates to the “law of pithiness,” dictates that our brains respond better to simple, symmetrical order.

Complicated designs elicit a negative psychological reaction, because we fear they may hold “unpleasant surprises.”

With this rule in mind, websites can dramatically increase response rates by making pages simpler: cleaner, more concise and with fewer calls to action.


Case study: The Sims 3

The Sims is one of the bestselling video game franchises of all time. But brand recognition and customer loyalty can only go so far when your web design is not optimized for conversions.

The manufacturer’s website was cluttered with multiple calls to action: get free stuff, register your game, create an account and so on. All of these CTAs conflicted with each other and drove down response rates across the board.

  • The solution: The Sims created several new landing pages that each focused on just one CTA, instead of multiple, to help users know what to do.
  • The outcome: Conversion rates for each of those pages increased by more than 43% — including one variation that increased by 128%.

2) The Principle of Past Experience

The Law of Past Experience says that our previous experiences help to inform our expectations and interpretations for current and future experiences.

This principle is particularly important for user experience (UX) design. In short, it’s generally not a good idea to reinvent the wheel online – especially for shopping carts and checkout processes. If the experience is too different from what users are familiar with, they’re more likely to get lost or become frustrated and exit the site.

3) The Principle of Cost/Benefit Analysis

Psychologically, when users take various actions on your website, their brains rapidly weigh the cost vs. benefit of each action. For example: filling out a form (cost) to get a free item (benefit).

Often, the perceived cost is too great for users, especially if there’s a complicated or time-consuming process (i.e. taking a long survey vs. simply entering an email address).

As such, websites should consider simplifying their conversion actions as much as possible – even if it means just redesigning elements to make it appear simpler. The reduced perceived cost will greatly increase the rate of response.


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