There was an interesting post recently on the Kissmetrics blog, “5 Psychological Principles of High Converting Websites,” that had some very interesting insights not just for website conversion but for overall product performance. Although I do not agree with all of these principles, understanding how your users think or play is crucial to success.
Law of pithiness
The article starts with the law of pithiness, in which people tend to order their experiences in a symmetrical, simple manner. They prefer things that are clear and orderly, and are afraid of complex, complicated ideas or designs. The law of pithiness leads to a design principle that I think is critical: The simpler your product or game, the greater its chances for success. If it is a game, every second of training or tutorial reduces the chance it succeeds. If it is a product, the easier it is to use and the simpler it makes the users life, the more powerful it will be. Uber is successful because it takes about 15 seconds to hail a taxi, set the destination and pay. Social casinos games are habitually in the top grossing because you download the game, click on a slot machine, and you are playing. The more complex or difficult the process, the less likely for success.
Law of past experience
This principle suggests people interpret current experiences by their past experiences. If you try to change the way they need to do things, they are likely to not understand or rebel. For example, in your shopping cart or buy page, you may have a clever attractive icon for people to buy, but they are more likely to make a purchase if you have a button that says buy now because they remember that is how they make a purchase. Also, if you have an existing product with a large user base, you may improve the product but lose many of your existing users because they are used to using the product in a traditional way. For many years, in the land-based slot machine business, even when the slots went digital and only needed the push of a digital button, they had to include a mechanical arm because that is how people felt they should play a slot machine.
Principle of cost/benefit analysis
The idea of cost/benefit analysis explores the tradeoff between decreasing friction for the user and increasing their incentive to complete an action. You need to make sure the reward you are offering has more value than the perceived cost of completing an action. If you have an app and want people to register using Facebook Connect, a five-percent-off coupon may not be sufficient to incentive the action but a $10 gift card may convince them the benefit exceeds the cost.
According to the Kissmetric blog post, “Fitts’ Law proposes that time required to move your mouse to a target area (like a sign-up button) is a function of (1) distance to the target and (2) size of the target.” I would add the time to move to the target area is also a key part of this principle. Thus, you want to minimize the time and difficulty of a user taking the action you want. If you are an online retailer, it could be adding a product to a shopping cart or checking out. If you are a game company, it could be Facebook connecting or making a purchase. Conversely, you want to make undesirable outcomes (such as reducing quantity) more difficult. What is critical here is that very small changes in your UI and UX can have a disproportionate impact on user behavior.
The fifth principle described in the post is that people will fixate on a human face on a website or in a game and assess the emotions on the face. This is critical in everything from game development to E-commerce. A game that includes a face in its feed posts or throughout the game will probably connect better with the player and drive more of the desired activity. The face also can attract attention in a crowded Facebook feed. A trusting face on an E-commerce site could increase players trust of the site and thus likelihood to purchase.
- Some basic psychological principles can have a significant impact on your product or game.
- The law of pithiness, which effectively says “keep things simple,” is one of the strongest drivers of success. Products that are easier to use or that make users life simpler are often incredibly successful.
- Users will look at the cost and benefit of any action so you need to incentive the action with value higher than the perceived cost.