A Five Minute Version of Neuro Web Design

I get wonderful emails from readers of my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click. People write me and say how much they loved the book, etc, etc. It’s one of the benefits of writing a book!

A request from a reader — A few days ago I got one of those emails and the author asked if I had any presentations or slides that I could share with him. He was putting together a presentation for his management at work about the concepts in the book.

I procrastinate! — This is a request I get a lot, but I had never gotten around to putting together a Slideshare presentation for example, and uploading it. This is mainly because my talks and presentations are highly visual. I would have to do an audio annotation for the slides to make any sense.

I break the procrastination. On a weekend no less — When I got the email from my reader I decided that it was about time that I give it a whirl, so this weekend found me paring down my usual talk on the topic to a smaller number of slides. Then I donned a set of headphones with a microphone, and started talking.

I get it done in an hour — Slidecast (the part of slideshare where you add audio), was not the most intuitive interface, but it wasn’t too bad. I would say it took me about an hour from start to finish… from deciding on the slides, to recording the audio, and re-recording, and re-recording (in GarageBand), uploading everything and syncing up the slides with the audio (that was the klugy interface part).

See what you think, and give me feedback — It’s not perfect, but it’s a good first try. You can watch and listen below (the embed tool from Slideshare is very easy to use). It’s about 5 minutes in length. I’d love to get feedback from all of you about  this format, whether you think I should do more of these, and what topics I should talk/present about in them. So respond to me via the comments below or drop me an email at weinschenk@gmail.com. And if you don’t have the book yet, then click on one of the links in the sidebar and check it out.

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100 Things You Should Know About People: #29 – Brand Names Talk To Our "Old" Brains

You are planning on buying a new TV. Will you buy a brand you recognize? Or will you go for the unfamiliar “no name” brand that is less expensive? What if you are buying luggage?

Talking to the “old brain” — In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I write about the “old brain”. This is the part of the brain that developed first from an evolution point of view (sometimes called the reptilian brain because it developed with reptiles). The old brain is continually scanning the environment and asking, “Can I eat it?”, “Will it kill me?”, “Can I have sex with it?”. Basically the old brain is interested in food, survival and sex. This pre-occupation with our well-being also makes the old brain sensitive to the idea of loss. The old brain is therefore more motivated by the fear of losing something than it is by the possibility of gain.

Brands activate “safety” — Brand names talk to the old brain because they activate the idea of safety. A brand name means that the item is not an unknown. And if the brand name is positive to you, then the brand name signals safety to the old brain. (If you have had a negative experience with the brand then it will be the opposite. I had a bad experience with Panasonic once many many years ago, and for over two decades I wouldn’t buy anything made by Panasonic. Recently I’ve reluctantly let go of that “ban”, but I still prefer not to buy Panasonic. I can’t even remember what the product was that upset me so much, but in my head Panasonic = maybe not reliable).

Brands are shortcuts — One of the things our old brains are really good at is making quick “blink” decisions. You can’t consciously process all the information that comes into your brain. The estimate is that 40,000,000 inputs come into your brain from your senses every SECOND. You can only process 40 of those consciously, so it is your unconscious that is processing most of that information, and it uses lots of shortcuts to make the processing go faster. Brands are a shortcut. A brand you have a positive and emotional experience with equals a signal to the old brain that this is safe.

Brands are even more powerful online — I’m currently analyzing some data I’ve collected on people making purchases online. (I’ll be sharing that data in another post shortly). The study I conducted has to do with customer reviews. But an interesting piece of information that emerged along the way was how important brand was to the purchasing decision. Some of the participants in the study were asked to shop for luggage online, and others were asked to shop for TVs. All the participants commented during the study about the brand, saying things like, “I don’t know. This one is a good price, but I’ve never heard of this brand”.  In the absence of being able to see and touch the actual product, the brand becomes the “surrogate” for the experience. This means that brands have even more power and sway when you are making an online purchase.

What has been your experience? Do you go for “name” brands more when you are shopping online?

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Who is The Most Romantic?: The Brain Science of Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's DayIt’s almost Valentine’s Day and you go online to look for a gift to buy that special someone in your life. What will you buy? I posed that question to both men and women in a small research study I conducted recently. And the answers I got surprised me.

When research answers a different question than the one you meant to ask — Actually, the question I thought I was studying was about how much money people would be spending online. I had a theory that if people stated up front what their Valentine’s gift budget was, then they would be more likely to stick with that budget. So I ran two groups: people who were asked how much money they planned to spend before the shopping started, and people who weren’t. And I split both of those groups into men and women to see if there were any gender differences to the budget question.

The budget question was a bust — It turns out that when you ask people what their budget is, it doesn’t affect how much they buy at all, not men, not women. I saw the lack of a trend right away as I started analyzing the data, but then the data told me something totally different.

The gifts that men and women were buying were VERY different. Watch the video first, and then read on:

A disclaimer — This is not a formal research study with statistical analysis. It’s an exploratory study. Having said that, though, I was careful to present everyone with the same instructions, and I had people responding from all over the USA.

So here are the findings — Men picked traditionally romantic Valentine’s gifts, such as flowers, chocolate, and jewelry. Just about all the men picked these traditional gifts. The only slight deviation was one man who said he was buying tickets to dinner and a show. None of the women picked what would be considered a traditional Valentine’s gift. None. The women were purchasing: books, cell phones, pajamas, keychains, TVs….

Does this mean the men are more romantic? — Well, I guess it depends on what you call romantic. The men definitely mentioned love more than the women. The men would say things like:

Continue reading “Who is The Most Romantic?: The Brain Science of Valentine's Day”

10 Best Posts of 2009

It’s that time of year — so here is my list of the 10 best posts from my blog in 2009. I chose the 10 that I believe have had the greatest impact/most thought provoking/most interest from my readers.

#1: Dopamine Makes You Addicted to Seeking Information — I thought this was an interesting post when I wrote it, but it surprised me how quickly it took off virally; more than any other post I’ve written!

#2: Eyetracking — 7 Traps to Avoid — Another surprise to me how popular this post was.

#3: 7 Steps to Successful Web Site Redesign — I think Jacek Utko has an important view of the world.

#4: Your Attention is Riveted By Pictures of People — If people knew how important this is I think they’d change the pictures they put at their web site.

#5: Web Site User Experience Anatomy — Not one of my posts, but a guest post by Craig Tomlin, and an interesting way to think about web sites. Continue reading “10 Best Posts of 2009”

100 Things You Should Know About People: #17 — Your Unconscious Knows 1st

You are shopping for a new computer and the salesperson you are talking to is offering you what seems to be a good deal. And yet there is a part of you that feels uncomfortable and isn’t sure if this is the right computer, or the right deal, or the right store for you. If you had to articulate why you felt uncomfortable you might not be able to say why, or you’d make up a reason, but that might not really be the reason. So what’s going on?

Your unconscious mind is faster than your conscious mind — One of my favorite pieces of research is the study by Bechara and Damasio. It’s a little complicated to explain, so a few months ago I put together a short video “re-enactment” to help describe the research. I have a summary below as well:

Continue reading “100 Things You Should Know About People: #17 — Your Unconscious Knows 1st”

Recovery.Gov Website — For The Average Citizen?…Not

Have you been wondering where all the “stimulus” money is going that the US government is giving away to get us out of the recession? The US government has a website where you can go to look up anything and everything you want to know about the stimulus money.

I’ve created a video podcast review of the site:

Have you been to the site Recovery.Gov? Do you agree with my review?

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100 Things You Should Know About People: #11 — Why You Can't Resist Paying Attention to Food, Sex, or Danger

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Food Captures Attention

Have you ever wondered why traffic always slows when people are driving by an accident? Do you moan about the fact that people are attracted by the gruesome, and yet find that you glance over too as you drive by? Well, it’s not really your fault, you (and everybody else) can’t resist looking at scenes of danger. It’s your “old brain” telling you to PAY ATTENTION.

You have 3 brains — In my book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? I talk about the idea that you really don’t have one brain, you have three. The “new brain” is the conscious, reasoning, logical brain that you think you know best; the mid brain” is the part of the brain that processes emotions, and the “old brain” is the part of the brain that is most interested in your survival.

From reptiles to people — If you look at brains from an evolutionary perspective, the “old brain” developed first (hence the name “old brain”!). In fact, that part of our brain is very similar to the brain of a reptile, which is why some people call it the “reptilian” brain. Continue reading “100 Things You Should Know About People: #11 — Why You Can't Resist Paying Attention to Food, Sex, or Danger”

The 11 Best Psychology, Persuasion, and Usability Books You Should Read

NOTE: This blog post was written in 2009. I have a new list of books at a newer blog post.

I love to read. I read fiction and history and psychology… I’m an avid reader. Which means when I give talks on psychology, usability, user experience, or my book, Neuro Web Design,  I often say, “Oh, there’s this great book…” and people then ask me for my “favorite books” list. I always tell them I’ll put one together, and then I never do. Well, here’s a start. Some of these are my favorites, and others I take issue with, but I still think you might want to read. I do have an Amazon affiliate account, so I’ve included a link to each book after the description if you are interested in purchasing or just getting more info.

How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer, 2009 – This is my favorite book on the topic of decision-making. It came out after I wrote my book (Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?) or I would have quoted him many times in my book. It’s a small book, and has lots of research in it, but it is quite readable. Highly recommended if you want to understand the how and why of human decision-making.

Strangers to Ourselves: The Adaptive Unconscious, by Timothy Wilson, 2004 – This is the book that actually got me started seriously on the topic of the unconscious. I had read Blink (Malcolm Gladwell) and although that was an interesting book, I wanted more depth and detail. Gladwell referenced Wilson’s book so I started reading it and light bulbs went off for me. This one is a bit more academic and psychological, especially the first few chapters, but all in all, a great book with lots of interesting insights and strong research.

Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, 2007 – This is a fun read. I don’t think it’s really about Happiness, so I don’t totally understand the title. To me it’s mainly about memory of the past, and anticipation about the future, and the research on how accurate or inaccurate we are about both past and future. It’s full of fascinating research, but is written in a very readable way.

Neuro Marketing:  Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain, by Patrick Renvoise and Christophe Morin – This book is short and easy to read. It applies some of the latest neuro psychology work specifically to marketing and sales. A good book to give to someone who wants an overview without all the research details. A nice concise and quick read that will orient you to the neuro marketing mindset, and give you some quick tips about more effective marketing and selling.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini, 2006 – This is a newer version of the original book that came out several years ago. This book is the “granddaddy” of all the other books on the topic. A very worthwhile read. Interesting too, because at the time he originally wrote this book each chapter had a section on how to RESIST the persuasive techniques. He wasn’t a proponent of using them; he wanted you to know about them so you wouldn’t fall prey. He did a turn-around on that mindset for his subsequent book that I talk about next. Continue reading “The 11 Best Psychology, Persuasion, and Usability Books You Should Read”

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!