6 principles of persuasion – for user experience (UX) design

Usability practitioners can use the principles of persuasion to help design more effective user experiences. We recommend that every site consider how they could test variations of these techniques, in order to find out what UX strategy works for them and their audience.  Based on years of academic research, here are the 6 principles of persuasion:

Reciprocity

People tend to feel obliged to return a favour.

Example: Many sites offer free whitepaper downloads, but require users to provide some personal details (such as their email address) before allowing access to the download.  Studies have shown that you can often get a greater number of valid user details by asking after a download, rather than before.

Commitment and Consistency

If people commit to an idea or goal, they tend to be motivated to honour that commitment.

Example: Loyalty schemes with defined targets (such as: ‘Buy 10 cups of coffee and get your 11th free!”) tend to perform better than open-ended schemes.

Social proof

People often use other people’s actions as a basis for their own.

Example: Customer reviews and testimonials are one of the most popular ways to exploit this aspect of persuasion.

Authority

People tend to rely on (and obey) authority figures.

Example: To help sell products, tell your prospective customers about expert reviews, awards and accreditations.  To sell your people, focus on their qualifications, experience and accomplishments.

Liking

If someone likes you, it’s easier to persuade them.

Example: Create a positive impression on people through your website’s colour-scheme, design, choice of images and tone of voice.

Scarcity

People are more likely to want something if supply is limited.

Example: Make sure to emphasise any limited supplies or time-limited offers.

 

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