Neuro Web Design: How to Make Webs and Influence People

Annarita Tranfici
Left brain right brain diagram

Photo: opensourceway

In the first part of this short series about Neuro Web Design, we saw how our decision-making behavior is governed by unconscious processing and how our experience is driven by external factors such as social validation, similarity and other interesting human factors.

Now it’s time to see these principles in action.

In this second part, I’ll give you some suggestions on how to make websites persuasive and more inclined to make people ‘click’, or take action in general. Hopefully you’ll find them useful, especially if you have an e-commerce and want to improve your selling.

I’ve broken them into 6 principles you should take into account while planning the marketing strategy to adopt in your website (if you are a seller), or to keep in mind (if you are a buyer).

1). Similarity: a picture is worth a thousand words

The images make up the majority of our thoughts, regardless of the sensory modality in which they are originated, and regardless of whether we think of an object (i.e. a boat) or to the processes related to objects (i.e. a boat trip), words, or symbols.

In short, information conveyed through imagery is remembered much more readily than the written data, and we give it more attention.

Inc; Story on Chris Zane cycles

Summary: Use a small amount of well-chosen words to describe your product or service, and combine them with attractive and incisive images.

2). Fear of loss

We are programmed to notice and pay attention to situations that can trigger in us the fear of loss.

In fact, the fear of losing motivates us more than the opportunity to win or gain. Faced with situations of potential loss, our bodies and our unconscious mind are activated faster than the conscious level.

Once explained it, imagine the effect that something like Only two in stock may have on our brain. This is a topic that people who intend to sell their products using an e-commerce service should deepen. In the image below, you can see an example of this practice applied to a website.

Romwe website screenshot

If there is a limited supply of something, we imagine that it is more valuable, and we want it even more. The scarcity of a product leads us to take action rapidly. This applies to products but also to information. In fact, if we believe that the information is difficult to obtain, we assign it a greater value.

If you have an e-commerce and were wondering why there are times when your products become out of stock faster, you should reflect and observe how many items were available in your shop in that particular moment.

3). Tell Stories

As humans, we tend to think in narrative terms. Websites that use stories and tales will attract our attention.

In fact, the mere use of the word ‘story’ is remarkably effective in itself. Combining images and stories is an powerful way of attracting attention, holding it and helping us to recall what we’ve seen or read.

One of the best examples is crowdfunding darlings Kickstarter as shown by the image below.

Kickstarter screenshot

People who would like to start a new project on one of the many crowdfunding websites should think carefully about how they manage their copy.

Writing a precise and concise description, clarifying the project goals, and trying to engage the emotions of potential supporters are all crucial steps to success in a highly competitive marketplace.

4). Give Social Validation

The concept of social validation is, in many ways, linked to the one previously described.

We are social animals. We’ll always find a way to use any existing technology to communicate and develop social relationships. We are living in an age where Like, Share and Comment are fundamental currency.

Perhaps more than ever, we feel the need to share our thoughts, our feelings and our emotions in a virtual way. But we often underestimate the power of persuasion that these simple activities might have on the behavior of the people who read it.

The social networking websites that use the principles of persuasion are those that grow fastest. If you want to achieve the next big innovation network, try to imagine how to use a new technology in a social sense.

This is the reason why (as I mentioned in the first part of this article) we often act upon learning one of two pieces of information:

  • having learned other people’s experience with that particular product or service, perhaps by reading reviews;
  • when we discover the actions that others are doing at that very moment, through the suggestions provided by the site itself (i.e “ColoradoMom74 just brought a 3 Bowl Mixer set”).

In this context, the example that best fits this principle, is Amazon.


This image explains perfectly what I mean: the website (in this case Amazon) offers some suggestions based on the product we were considering to buy. So, if we needed to buy a new camera, the systems “remembers” us that we could also need an external memory card, a case, or a lens.

The more you buy, the more they earn of course. And in this way they succeed in triggering in you the sense of need.

Did you really need those extra items?

Like those chocolates and trashy magazines in the supermarket queue, you probably don’t.

5). Promote Scarcity

The idea of being able to get something immediately will be a strong push to action and to an immediate purchase.

The ability to have the item within a short time (or, better, NOW!), affects our intermediate brain. It will try to get the upper hand on the logical brain that is performing a cost/benefit analysis on having that object immediately versing waiting. The moment affects our choices.

Romwe screenshot

Sales will end in 19 Hours, 10 minutes and 58 seconds. The hidden message is: “Hurry, there’s no much time left!”. Who of us has never made a purchase in such a mood?

We all understand how persuasive can be…

6). Every penny saved is a penny earned

Presenting your product with ‘everything included’ and then letting buyers know that they can ‘SAVE EVEN MORE!’ by removing ‘optional extras’ is a much more powerful play that offering a base product with the option of adding extras on top.

Moreover, if you want users to choose a particular product available on your website, you should show it first. When a user makes an expensive purchase, if the related products offered are expensive but far less than his initial purchase (for instance, a $100 laptop case to accompany a MacBook Air purchase), he or she will likely buy both.

On the contrary, if the user came back to buy the product later, he or she would tend to save money.


In this short series made of two parts we’ve seen some principles of Neuro Web Design. They are useful to learn how to design websites that appeal to the unconscious mind in order to move people to action.

You can deepen all the topics discussed in these two articles reading the book Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? by Susan Weinschenk.

It definitely is worth a reading.