Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? by Susan M. Weinschenk

This book received good reviews on Amazon.com: One reader hated it; fifteen gave it a perfect score. It averaged four stars. So I decided to download the Kindle version and check it out.

I’m somewhere in between. I liked it: It was not amazing, but worthwhile.

This book isn’t about web design in the strict sense: Classic matters of Information Architecture and Usability aren’t covered in significant depth, nor is there any discussion of HTML or CSS. Instead, this “web design” book is about persuasion architecture and consumer behavior.

Weinschenk has done a good job of pulling together relevant information from disparate sources such as psychological studies, usability tests, and consumer research. She presents it in an easy-to-understand manner that makes for an interesting look at psychological factors that drive consumer behaviors online. While it doesn’t feel like a comprehensive recipe for total persuasion architecture, it is a practical, fast-reading collection of principals and tactic that is accessible and actionable.

Who Should Read This Book

Anyone working in online marketing—designers, writers, information architects, and marketers—would find this book of some value. Much of the material has implications for off-line marketing too. The paperback is a little overpriced at $19.79 (Amazon.com). But for $9.99, the Kindle version is worth it. And it’s a quick-and-painless read. There are some good nuggets in here for almost anyone in the field.

E-Blast Designs: What You Should & Shouldn’t Do

I get asked alot of questions about eblast design.

You’ll notice that most of my business eblasts have the same format. Why?

Because of Rule Number 1: Familiarity. If people on your mailing list are faithful readers (and I know who you are), they like to see things in the same place on your eblast every month.

In general, humans by nature don’t like change. Maybe you’re not one of them, but when it comes to technology, people get into panic mode when something new comes on their computer screen. The nail biting, hand wringing and binge eating set in. So, if you have a layout that you started with, and people are responding to it in a positive manner (i.e. click thru rates), then don’t change.

Rule Number 2: Always, always…..ALWAYS post your logo or text to link to your website.

The same holds true for your social media links: Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Pinterest, Blog…whatever. The more people know you are connected, the more they will be inclined to see what you have posted as far as helpful information, upcoming events, product updates, promotions, ideas, etc. They also get to know another side of you which promotes a personal connection.

Rule Number 3 (and this is a biggie): It’s not all about YOU.

No. Sorry, to break your bubble folks, but people keep opening eblasts because the information they find are useful to them. They can relate to content. They connect to the information you provide.

So, rather than saying you have a SALE ON EVERYTHING IN YOUR STORE in big RED CAPS, write about something that the reader will relate to and find helpful. Here’s a hint:

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. If you were a customer, what would you like to learn about? Be informed about? You can manage to promote your business as well as inform and educate your readers as well. If you’re not a good writer and need your eblasts written for you, just get in touch with us!

Rule Number 4: End your eblast with information about your business.

A personalized short video clip provides a great “elevator speech” about your business and is interactive. Web Designs offers custom videos with music and graphic images based on what you want to convey to your target audience in a very short period of time. If you can imagine being stuck in an elevator with Steve Jobs and you have the best software on the market that you think he would be interested in, what would you say to him between the first floor and the 30th floor?

Think about that and get back to me. I’d love to collaborate with you and make that a reality for your business.

Rule Number 5: The subject title of your eblast.

Certain words can cause your eblast to go into people’s spam folder without them even seeing it. Don’t use the words free, offer, special, limited time, or anything that would cause the recipient to act now. Oh, and the words, “Available Russian Brides” doesn’t help either. Jeeeeeez……

Rule Number 6: Have a Call To Action (CTA).

If you want people to “do” something on your eblast such as shop on your site, place an order, call for an appointment, or schedule a free consultation, you need to have a prominent graphic, such as a button or other type of eye catching visual to make them click on it. This will often provide companies with information on their audience as well as possible conversions to sale.

Eblasts take awhile for dedicated readers to keep on reading. As long as you have well written, relatable content that people can use, they will keep on reading and remember your business when they need your product or services. There is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting your upcoming events or adding coupons (people LOVE coupons!)

Finally, make it visually appealing. All text and no visual graphics make for a boring e-blast. Provide some relatable, free stock photography if you are on a limited budget to your eblasts. Otherwise, high-end stock photography is always pretty darn cool and worth the bang for the buck.

Can’t Afford A Website? Here Are Some DIY’s

You can’t afford a web designer – I get it. I’m a little upset with your choice, but understand your situation. Being a small business owner myself, I do many marketing things on my own rather than pay someone hundreds or even thousands of dollars because I simply can’t afford it.

However, if you’re going to build your own website, there are a few things you MUST (and I repeat) MUST include on your website.

Raise your right hand and repeat after me: I (state your name), do solemnly swear that if I decide to attempt the unchartered waters of the internet by building my own website, I will adhere to the following basic guidelines.

You can put your right hand down now (medical clause).

Take copious notes…..

The Basics

1. A logo.

If you don’t have one, get one. Every business needs a logo if you’re going to have a website. Logos quickly communicate your company’s personality and ethos to users.

2. Clear Navigation.

The homepage is like a beacon. It’s the “light” to go to when someoneis lost on your site, or can’t find what they need. Make the navigation clear, simple and to the point. Horizontal navigation is easier on the eyes than vertical.

3. Content.

Copy and content is extremely important on any page within your website for SEO and accessibility reasons. Keep things clean and clutter free. Consult a professional, if necessary, to help write good content with keyword rich phrases and hyperlinks most commonly searched upon based on your company’s product and/or service. Your objective is to be found thru search engines and this is one of the key aspects in attaining your online goal. (Note to self: You need SEO experience to understand how to get noticed online. If you feel that putting your own website up is enough to gain yourself internet traffic, you are unfortunately mistaken).

4. The Web Visitor’s Objective.

What do you want them to do? If it’s to buy a product or service, then provide a CTA (or call to action) area to make that area ‘pop’ so the visitor will want to click on it. Do you have a special offer? Have a section which you can regularly change out with seasonal or weekly offers showing an image and the offer itself (i.e. 20% off all leather furniture thru August 22, 2012).

5. Imagery.

People are drawn to visually expressive pictures representing what your site is about. So, if you have a website about pet products, don’t put pictures of Kim Kardashian on there…….wait – on the other hand….

6. The Fold.

Your most important stuff (and this means the stuff you want people to see right away), should be above the fold. So, don’t put your hot new offer at the bottom of the page where someone would have to scroll down to see it. Here’s a little clue: Most people are lazy when it comes to searching online. They don’t scroll on web pages. If they can’t find what they want in 5 – 7 seconds they’ll go to the other 2,356,402 results they have at the ready. You’ve seen them before, right? Those web pages that can scroll on, and on, and on…….and on to the point where you need a splint for your forefinger. Some don’t believe in the fold anymore. I still do, so I’m posting it on my blog. So there!

7. Consistency.

The design on your homepage should remain consistent throughout the remainder of your website. Don’t make your home page black and then change up the design on the contact page to pink with purple stripes. People will think they’ve left your site and traveled into Toys R Us land.

There is alot more to building an effective website. A lot more.

The Secret of Great Blog Designs

There are no blog designs that doesn"t have any effect on its blog, its message, and its goals. A blog design is either helping you move forward with your blog or it is not only hindering you from moving forward, but actually pushing you backwards. There exists no stand still between the two, because a blog"s design acts as the frame that a reader uses to decide on what the message you are trying to say actually means.

So what is the purpose of a blog design? The purpose of a blog design is to support your goals, communicate your message, and make your branding memorable.

How does a blog design have so much purpose? It has a lot to do with the ability of a blog design to evoke emotions, which in turn wakes up the thoughts and beliefs that are tied to it within our mind. These emotions, thoughts, and beliefs are all interconnected in our mind from previous experiences where we learned to connect them together. In psychology, they call this a schema. An example of an everyday schema is when people are driving and they see a police officer, the first thing everyone does is slow down, because the police officer brings up thoughts, emotions, and experiences that relate to getting a ticket. Schemas are very powerful and there is a way to prime a certain schema, by presenting a person with the correct stimulus.

Another reason blog designs have such a powerful effect is explained well by Barry Schwartz in his book ‘The Paradox of Choice".

“Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues have shown that what we remember about the pleasurable quality of our past experience is almost entirely determined by two things: how the experiences felt when they were at their peak (best or worst), and how they felt when they ended. This “peak-end" rule of Kahneman"s is what we use to summarize the experience, and then we rely on that summary later to remind ourselves of how the experience felt." (1)

The ‘peak-end" rule has a few important implications to blog designs. The main one is that it can help to create a pleasurable experience that is memorable, which helps your branding a lot and makes your message last longer in your reader"s mind. The other one is that it can also have the same effect in the reverse direction, and make displeasing blog designs more memorable as well, which will hurt your message and reputation. It is a double-sword effect, but if you learn to wield it, it will be an important arsenal in your collection of weapons.

5 Ways to Make Your Blog Design Unforgettable

Introduction

A big problem with blogs these days is that a lot of them look pretty much like each other so it is hard to tell them apart and worst, it makes them easy to forget. While the quality of your content will have a large effect on whether or not your material was worth remembering, the blog design will either make or break the user"s experience when they are reading your content.

In a previous article in the blog design 101 series, the importance of the peak-end rule was established. The peak-end rule being how a person codes their experience in a memory by taking the most intense feeling during that experience and combining it with the experience felt at the end. In this article, I will take it a step further and show you how to use the peak-end rule to your advantage.

In a study testing usability and the peak-end rule, they found out that a single experience of a particularly pleasant design feature will leave a stronger impression than several experiences of a feature that is less pleasant. (1) What this means for blog design is that if you only have time to do one thing very good or a bunch of things so-so, opt for that one thing. So that it sticks out in the mind of the user.

5 Ways to make your blog design unforgettable

1. Break the ‘norm"

Breaking the norm means taking something that is generally done in your area and doing something that breaks out of it. An example of this would be taking a color scheme that often gets used in your area and using something totally different. This makes people take notice.

2. Pay attention to overlooked areas

Common overlooked areas that have a large effect on a user"s experience are comment designs and posts footer designs. Pay special attention to these and give it more time than usual in order to really bring it out and make it worth talking about.

3. Increase the functionality of your blog design

Blog design is not just a piece of artwork to hang up and admire, but of course there are some you can certainly hang up. A blog design is more of an interface between the reader and the content you have on your blog. An easy way of making your blog design more functional is to add a script or plugin that makes your blog design better. And if you make one that really meets a need of your readers, then it will be noticeable and most of all memorable to the user as you took the extra step.

4. Take one design feature and run with it

First of all, you must bring your overall blog design to at least a basic level of standard. What is a basic level of standard? Make sure it is usable and easy to use. After that, start taking the most important blog design elements and take it as far as you can. Explore the edges of that blog design element. Make it as aesthetically appealing as you can, as easy to use as possible, or as simple as possible. Get creative with this, there are an endless amount of things you can do to make it better.

5. Unique blog design

A unique blog design tailored to your specific needs, message, and audience goes a long way in setting yourself apart from others in a great way. Not only does it speak professionalism, but it also shows your commitment to your blog when you spend that much time or money on it.

Conclusion

Remember, don"t do something different just for the sake of being different. Focus on differentiating your blog design in a positive way. This will make your blog design unforgettable.