Help Me: Take this short survey so I can learn what you want in this blog

Thank you to everyone who is reading my blog. I’ve been monitoring the analytics and the readership is growing every day. It’s exciting, and I appreciate everyone who stops by.

I’d like to get an idea from you about what it is you would like most to see at the blog, so I’ve put together a very short survey (it’s like only 3 questions) and I would appreciate it if you would take a moment to fill it out. I’ll share the responses I get in an upcoming blog if you are interested in what everyone said.

So here goes, my first ever survey at the What Makes Them Click? blog! And thanks in advance for taking the survey.

Click Here to take survey

100 Things You Should Know about People: #2 — You READ FASTER With a longer Line Length But PREFER Shorter

Have you ever had to decide how wide a column of text you should use on a screen? Should you use a wide column with 100 characters per line? or a short column with 50 characters per line?

It turns out that the answer depends on whether you want people to read faster or whether you want them to like the page!

Research (see reference below) demonstrates that 100 characters per line is the optimal length for on-screen reading speed; but it’s not what people prefer. People read faster with longer line lengths (100 characters per line), but they prefer a short or medium line length (45 to 72 characters per line). In the example above from the New York Times Reader, the line length averages 39 characters per line.

The research also shows that people can read one single wide column faster than multiple columns, but they prefer multiple columns (like the New York Times Reader above).

So if you ask people which they prefer they will say multiple columns with short line lengths. Interestingly, if you ask them which they read faster, they will insist it is also the multiple columns with short line lengths, even though the data shows otherwise.

It’s a quandary: Do you give people what they prefer or go against their own preference and intuition, knowing that they will read faster if you use a longer line length and one column?

What would you do?

Dyson, M.C. (2004). “How Physical Text Layout Affects Reading from Screen.” Behavior & Information Technology, 23(6), pp. 377-393.

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100 Things You Should Know about People: #1– You Have "Inattention Blindness"

I’ve decided to start a series called 100 Things You Should Know about People. As in: 100 things you should know if you are going to design an effective and persuasive website, web application or software application. Or maybe just 100 things that everyone should know about humans!

The order that I’ll present these 100 things is going to be pretty random. So the fact that this first one is first doesn’t mean that’s it’s the most important.. just that it came to mind first.

I hope you enjoy this series. Make sure to let me know by posting comments.

So here’s #1 — Inattention Blindness

First let’s start with a little test for you to take. Watch the video below:

This is an example of what is called “inattention blindness” or “change blindness”. The idea is that people often miss large changes in their visual field. This has been shown in many experiments. Here is a description of an experiment conducted outside the lab:

So what does this mean if you are designing a website or something on a computer screen? It means that you can’t assume that just because something is on the screen means that people see it. This is especially true when you refresh a screen and make one change on it. People may not realize they are even looking at a different screen. Remember, just because something happens in the visual field doesn’t mean that people are consciously aware of it.

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Watch Out For Spending More Because of Habit

When I go to fill up on gas I always use the middle grade of gas… (this is the principle of contrast, by the way… when faced with choices of varying prices many people will pick the price that is one down from the most expensive… but that is a sidebar… it’s not even what this blog post is about!). And the middle grade of gas is supposed to be in the middle, right?

I don’t know if I’m getting paranoid these days or if this is a random occurence, or if some companies are actually trying to get me to spend more money, but here’s what I’ve been noticing: Instead of having the middle price in the middle… the HIGHEST price is actually in the middle! By habit I put the nozzle in the tank and always push the middle button… And I am therefore, unwittingly, choosing the most expensive gas.

Here are some examples:

And as we all know, once a habit is formed, it’s hard to break.

Anyone else been noticing this type of “switch” at gasoline pumps or in other ways?

Case Study: Applying Neuro Web Design to a web site for "Creative Wealth Building"

Nick Pfennigwerth took his old site:

and applied some of the principles in my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? Here is what Nick wrote to me:

“What I found most interesting and what I applied the most was activating the old brain. If you go to, www.creative-wealthbuilding.com/what-are-smart-goals.html , I used your methods for activating the old brain by telling a dangerous story with a picture of danger in the first couple of paragraphs. Then, I used other photos such as the beautiful woman holding money and the creative art of the human mind.

I also tried to activate the mid brain and new brain by making time sensitive offers and “limited time only”. Under the picture of the man mountain climbing, you can see a yellow box with a “jump link” to the bottom of my page. My most wanted response for that page is for my reader to sign-up for my wealth builders club. So, I used your techniques of limited offers, exclusive, and instant.”

The major changes I made:
New color format. I decided to use a blue format to create more of a trusting look and feel
Pictures. I use pictures that have some sex appeal, food, and danger.
I tell more stories. I use story-telling to create images and get people engaged.
I use limited time, exclusive, and time sensitive appeal.
I create solid and practical value.

After reading your book and implemented your ideas, I’ve received extremely positive reviews that I’ve helped others increase their lives and that my website is fun.”

Here is one of his re-designed pages:

You can see Nick’s site at: http://www.creative-wealthbuilding.com/what-are-smart-goals.html. 

Thanks Nick for sending me your case study!

If you have read the book and applied some of the principles, send me your case study with before and after pages links or screenshots and a list of the changes you made.

Case Study: The Psych Files applies Neuro Web Design

A few months ago I did an interview for Michael Britt’s podcast called The Psych Files. Michael has a loyal following (there have been 10,000 downloads of this particular podcast). Michael was “taken” with my book and decided to apply some of the things he learned to make changes in his own website. 

Here’s part of his original website:
Michael wrote me an email that said:


Changes based on the recommendations in your book:

1) Added in user feedback (chapter 2: social validation)
2) added in data (Chapter 2: Added data: number of views on YouTube, Google search result info)
3) Reciprocity (chapter 3: “The Psych Files podcast offers…..completely free audio and web resources.”)
4) Emphasized scarcity (chapter 4: “The is the ONLY place on the web where you’ll find this”…)
5) Drew on the idea of fear of loss (chapter 9: “Don’t be worried about getting a low grade…”)
6) Added in a success stories (chapter 10: “I went back to school after 15 years, and my daughter…..”)

I also did these things:
1) Made it more clear what problem the user had that my product would solve (instead of emphasizing how great I thought the product was)
2) Created visuals that are a) amusing, b) reinforce what the product will do for the potential buyer.
3) Bolded the important words
4) Decreased the amount of text overall

And here’s the “after” web page:



You can see the web site at: http://www.thepsychfiles.com/brain-mnemonics-for-sale/.


Thanks Michael for sending me your case study!

Chase Makes A Miracle Happen With Persuasive Design Part II

In my last post I talked about the chase blueprint site (http://www.chaseblueprint.com/#/home) and asked readers to write in with their ideas about why this website is so persuasive. Here’s a summary of what you wrote in:

— The use of the word You frequently (activiates old brain)

— Using attractive people who are “like me” (principles of attractiveness and similarity)

— Use of stories

— Use of animation to grab attention

— Use of trigger words such as “free”

Here’s what I think Chase could be doing to be even more persuasive and engaging:

— The stories are good, but with the use of stories there is a lot of use of “I” rather than “you”. So Chase should consider interspersing the “I” with more “you”.

— Tell me how many people have signed up for blueprint. (Social Validation principle).

— For even more social validation, have more people telling stories rather than just the one couple.

— Using close-ups would be better at least some of the time, so that we can see the person’s face more clearly and closely.

Thanks to everyone who wrote comments and sent in emails!

Chase Makes a Miracle Happen With Persuasive Design: Part I

An impossible task: I don’t know about you, but these days I’m not used to thinking of a credit card company as “my friend” or “on my side”. And the last thing I’m interested in is getting another credit card. Then how is it that in less than 5 minutes Chase convinced me that I absolutely have to have their credit card, and not only that, that I will want to use it as much as possible rather than any other card I have?

Let’s hear from you: I’m actually not going to tell you how they did it —  yet! That’s why this blog is labelled as Part I. I thought it would be more fun if we have everyone go to this site: http://www.chaseblueprint.com/#/home, spend some time looking at all the features of the card, etc, and then come back here and leave a comment with all the effective persuasive design techniques you noticed that they have used. Or if you are more comfortable with just sending me an email, send your comments to weinschenk@gmail.com. (Those of you who have read my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? may have an advantage when it comes to coming up with a list of persuasive design ideas they incorporated, but I’m sure everyone will be able to come up with at least a few of the concepts they are using).

I’ll compile the ideas: I’ll wait a few days and see what everyone has to say and then I’ll write Part II and summarize what everyone found.

Trust Lesson #2: Building Trust Is Not Enough

I choose the vendor I trust and have a “habit” for: I saw the movie Julie and Julia and now am reading the book. I got inspired, therefore, to try making a souffle and a quiche. Except I don’t own a souffle dish or a quiche dish. So, time to do my part for the economy, and actually purchase some kitchen wares. I happened to be in a Williams Sonoma store and even looked at and picked up both a quiche and a souffle dish. But I didn’t purchase them. I was thinking about a news story I had read recently that Amazon is positioning itself to be the major retailer of everything. I’m an Amazon fan (I actually bought their stock when they first went public and then stupidly sold it about 3 months later!), so I decided I’d buy my souffle and quiche dishes online at Amazon.

Uh, oh, something goes wrong: I quickly found what I wanted and ordered with “one click”. Two days later they arrive — each broken into little pieces.  Next I go online to let them know and get a refund. You can’t talk to anyone when you have a problem at Amazon, and the refund process is NOT easy. I have to find the right form online (took several tries). I have to fill out the form correctly (several more tries). I have to print labels (they want the broken dishes back). I have to send the dishes back separately. One has to go back via UPS and the other through the US mail (why is this?!?).

Trust is gone: I am a loyal Amazon fan. I buy hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise from Amazon each year. But I can tell you I will not buy anything breakable from them again, and I will think twice about buying anything that may have to be returned. This experience has eroded my trust, and not because the dishes arrived broken, but because it is so hard to get things rectified if there is a problem. Not being able to talk to a person makes me feel like Amazon doesn’t care about my experience as a customer.

Building trust isn’t enough: It’s one thing to miss out on an opportunity to build trust with a new customer. But it’s even worse to erode trust with someone who was loyal. Pay attention to the customers you have now. Make sure you evaluate your website, not only in terms of building trust, but in terms of keeping trust.

The Secret Ingredient to Web Site Loyalty

Here’s the Answer: I’ll state right up front — The Secret Ingredient is …. FUN!

The Scenario: Recently I was researching a trip for my son. He’s in Cairo for a semester abroad, but rather than coming straight home from there for the Christmas holidays, he’s decided he wants to go to London for two weeks (ok, I can’t blame him). But he’s a poor college student, so he has to do this as cheaply as possible. I was on video chat with him, and we’re discussing possible dates, itineraries, etc. I had to be able to search all these different options quickly. First I used Expedia, and then I used Travelocity. They were so slow, and ponderous, and had numerous usability issues. Why is it so hard to choose one-way or multi-destination? Why are the date pickers so hard to use? I was getting more and more frustrated and then somehow (I don’t even remember how or why), I ended up at Kayak.com.

Is it Usability or is it Fun?: Now Kayak is much more USABLE than the other sites. And that was wonderful, but that’s not what made me stay at Kayak for the rest of the research. And that’s not what made me go to Kayak since then to look up all other kinds of travel. Kayak is FUN. If you don’t know Kayak, then go try it out right now and then come back and finish reading the blog. Really. Go now and then come back.

So What’s So Fun?: When you enter your search criteria into Kayak and press the Search button things happen… you don’t just go to a screen with a progress bar, or an hourglass, or a funny picture of William Shatner… you stay on the same screen, but there are things happening… there is some kind of word unscrambler that is scrolling through word combinations. I don’t even know what that thing is, but I swear I can feel excitement mounting as it is cycling through until a word or phrase appears. And the results! The results of your search, with cities, and prices starts populating right away. It starts at the bottom of the screen and works up. So first you see a bunch of flights for $775, and then the price dips and you see a bunch of entries scrolling by of $585, then $356, and WOW, it stops at $272… I WON! Now I’m not a gambler, I don’t play slot machines, or even the lottery, but I”m telling you, this gets me every time. I find this website fun. Instead of dreading checking out flights I look forward to it. After I find the flight I want I am just one click away from Expedia or Travelocity or whomever else I want to use to actually BUY the flight. It will come up immediately with my flight info right there and I can purchase right away. This is great.

Fun + Usable = Trust?: There’s another subtle psychological shift: I trust the info at this site. I used to go to Northwest or Travelocity or Priceline, or all of those, because I didn’t trust that I was getting ALL the flights. But because Kayak.com is EASY and it’s FUN… I trust it.

The secret ingredient: FUN.