Before you hope to persuade an audience, you need to know what’s going on in their brain first. Most decisions are snap decisions; for most of the time we humans are working on a quasi kind of auto-pilot.

Malcolm Gladwell stated that 

Truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.

However with so many options bombarding the casual internet user, it’s important to appeal to their most instinctive level. You’ve only got fractions of a second to accomplish this.

Here are five tips to keep in mind for persuasive web design:

One: Clarity above all

The brain is a questioning organ. When we see something for the first time, the first thing we ask is “What is it?”

So for your website, the immediate questions the user instinctively asks are: What is this site about? What can I do here? What is there to stay for? And most importantly… Will I get the information I need?

Don’t use jargon heavy slogans and complicated highly detailed phrasing. Do something like this instead…

I know what I’m buying here, it couldn’t be more abundantly clear. I know exactly where to go if I want more info. I know exactly where to go if I want to buy it.

Here are eight more product landing pages to inspire you.

Two: Visual appeal

Research has shown that when people look at a website, 96% notice the visual design first. Only 6% notice the content.

First impressions can last years; visual appeal is apparently more instantly recognisable than user experience. Make it simple and familiar, people have a good general idea of what an ecommerce website should look like.

Here’s Simple’s banking website. 

Thankfully, the clear and easy to use homepage matches the bank’s mission statement. This is also a good example of using lots of white background to drive attention to what’s important on the page.

Here’s 24 more examples of user interfaces to help improve the visual appeal of your site.

Three: Have a strong visual hierarchy

Take at a look at the circles. Which is the most important circle?

The blue one, right? You don’t know anything about these circles. You’ve only just met them, and yet because the blue one is the biggest, you think it’s the most important.

Make whatever is the most important thing on your site the biggest thing.

Here’s 10 more excellent ecommerce product pages.

Four: Keep attention at all costs

  • 80% of attention happens above the fold.
  • 69% of attention happens on the left hand side of the screen.

According to neuroscience, the best way to capture attention is to use overlarge, attractive photographs. Larger than life background photos on landing pages are fantastic at doing this.

Using humans is a good way of creating an obvious personal connection to the consumer.

Especially if that human is smiling, making eye-contact, has open body language and is a natural, real-life example of a customer, not obvious stock photography.

Ebay has recently ‘adapted’ Pinterest’s layout for its own listings pages.

The company (eBay) claims that using overlarge images and reducing the text has slowed down user scrolling time.

On product pages, make your products bigger. Doing something as simple as reducing the number of products in a row from four to three, and making those images bigger, can lead to a 25% higher revenue.

Five: One primary action per screen

Think about exactly what each individual webpage’s function is, and make that abundantly clear. Don’t provide too many calls to actions to soon.

“Sign up now – it’s free!” is a common homepage call to action, but what is the user signing up for? What do they gain from this? Why should they care? 

Take the user on a journey first, using information about the product or service, then the user will be much more likely to make a purchase or sign-up when the call to action is presented. Here are 10 more best practice tips for ecommerce calls to action.

For further guidance on visual appeal read our A-Z of UX design principles from tech experts and our ultimate guide to colours and formatting for better conversion.