Monthly Archives: May 2009

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Web site managers have many choices when testing their sites, including usability, A/B or Alpha/Beta testing, but which one is best, and why?

Part II  The Pros and Cons of Alpha or Beta Testing

This is Part II, the Pros and Cons of Alpha or Beta testing, of a three part series on web site testing methods. Part I, the pros and cons of A/B testing started the series, and Part III, on the pros and cons of usability testing will conclude the series.

A recent Tweet from Eric Harrigan asked an intriguing question:

“If you could implement only one website testing program: A/B, Alpha/Beta or Usability, which one would you pick and why?”


I found myself thinking about this question and I think (and by the way I need to place a brief disclaimer here and tell you; I’m a bit biased what with being a Certified Usability Analyst and all, so you have to consider the source) that the answer is…

“It depends”

Lame answer you say? Hardly!

You see, there are positives and negatives with each web site testing method. When applied in certain circumstances, one choice may actually be a better pick than another (assuming you have to pick one).

At first, I was going to blog about the pros and cons of each of the three types. But, my post kept getting longer and longer and longer, so I thought I better cut this post back. Therefore I’m chopping this into 3 parts:

Part I  Pros and Cons of A/B testing
Part II  Pros and Cons of Alpha/Beta testing
(You’re reading it!)
Part III  Pros and Cons of Usability testing with a summary comparison of all three.

I’d like to stop you here and mention that a smart web site manager will use all three testing methods, plus additional sources of testing, when optimizing a site, but that spoils the fun of being forced to mentally pick one, so let’s proceed.

According that that compendium of all knowledge, Wikipedia, Alpha and Beta testing is defined as…

“Alpha testing is simulated or actual operational testing by potential users/customers or an independent test team at the developers’ site. Alpha testing is often employed for off-the-shelf software as a form of internal acceptance testing, before the software goes to beta testing.

Beta testing comes after alpha testing. Versions of the software, known as beta versions, are released to a limited audience outside of the programming team. The software is released to groups of people so that further testing can ensure the product has few faults or bugs. Sometimes, beta versions are made available to the open public to increase the feedback field to a maximal number of future users.”

For both Alpha and Beta testing, the web site (or application) is typically already built, finished and pretty much ready for use.

There is an assumption that testing in multiple forms has already occurred prior to Alpha and Beta testing, but sometimes that testing is not comprehensive to the user experience.

No matter how much prior testing however, it is assumed that there will be potential “bugs” (aka issues, problems, snafus or other “oops, we didn’t realize XYZ was broke” items) and that Alpha and Beta testing will uncover these issues prior to the web site or application going to the public at large.

The practice of Alpha and Beta testing assumes changes will need to be made, and will be made, prior to official “go-live.”

I like to think of Alpha testing as an Internal live test of a new web site, where people in a company become the end users and are subjected to the bug hunt final testing before the site goes public.

I like to call Beta testing the “Google Way” as it seems to me that most, if not all, of Google’s web applications at one time or another are put forth to the public for testing, but in a controlled manner (meaning you have to sign up to Beta test, so Google knows who’s testing what).

Considering that Gmail is still in Beta, and has been for the past 5 years or so, I’m guessing Google takes this whole Beta testing thing pretty seriously. There are other business reasons why it’s sometimes advantageous to use Beta testing, but more on that below in the Pros and Cons section.

Warn Beta Testers in Advance

Usually Alpha and Beta testing is conducted with users who are informed in advance that things may or may not work as expected. I like to call this an “eyes wide open” policy, meaning any potential users of the test web site (or application) are warned in advance that what they are about to use may or may not work correctly, and should hold the company harmless for any losses that might occur.

Often, users are asked to provide feedback about the issues they uncover either on an on-going basis, or through surveys or other tools for obtaining feedback.

Focusing on the more widely available Beta testing format of Alpha/Beta testing, let’s examine some of the pros to using the public to do your testing for you:

Pros of Alpha or Beta Testing of Web Sites or Applications:

1. Large Volume of Testers – Beta testing offers a company the ability to get a large number of testers interacting with the web site (or application) quickly. This provides plenty of opportunities to obtain feedback from real-world usage. Smart companies will usually post a Bug log or list of known issues, so that they will (hopefully) not receive a continuous stream of reports of the same issue, over and over and over again.

2. Live Testing – The great thing about Alpha and Beta testing is it’s live testing, using the actual environment that the web site or application was originally intended for. And because it’s live testing, results are obtained in real-time, meaning it won’t take long before users report items are not working as desired.

3. Real User Testing – The beauty of Beta testing is it is being done by real users, who have no pre-built assumptions about why things work, or how they are supposed to work. This means a wide variety of items are tested and reported on by real users, including usability, function, content (including help or instructions content!), error messages and other more nebulous items. All of these and more will be scrutinized and reported.

Perhaps some of these items were forgotten lightly covered by the design and development teams. Real users will test all systems and their feedback can greatly help add additional information and optimization of these critical areas.

4. Beta Means Continual Tweaking – Unlike boyfriends or husbands, you can change a web site or application, especially one that is being Alpha or Beta tested. With Beta testing, new versions with adjustments and optimizations can and will be deployed on an on-going basis. Because users have been warned, they should accept this and even help by testing the updates, to ensure they achieved the desired goal of fixing issues.

This by the way is an advantage over a final version of software, in that Beta versions allow for design and development improvements that do not have to be provided to OEMs or business partners as a software release. This is a distinct advantage for a company that’s not quite ready to support a mass-produced (and consumed) application post launch.

Cons of Alpha or Beta Testing of Web Sites or Applications:

1. The Web site or Application Must be BuiltPerhaps one of the major drawbacks of Alpha and Beta testing is the fact that the web site or application has to be built, meaning significant time and resources (meaning cost) were applied to construct it.

The cost of going back and making drastic changes to fix issues uncovered by Alpha or Beta testing can cause concern, and sometimes resistance, especially if a company has not allocated enough resources and time for post-Beta optimization.

This often results in what I like to call “Beta Momentum,” which is the resistance to change applied by the business due to the costs of making substantial tweaks found during Beta testing. I can think of several examples of web sites and applications that were rolled out to the public after Beta without all problems being fixed, perhaps you’ve seen a few too.

This trade-off of live but flawed executions might even defeat the purpose of using Beta testing as an optimization strategy.

2. Beta Testing is ChaoticThe thing that makes Beta testing so great, multiple users with little or no knowledge of the expected outcomes testing various random items, also makes it weak.

Since there is often no organized structure to how and where users test, there is no organized structure to receiving feedback. Some issues may be reported over and over again, while other issues are virtually ignored due to lack of use, or lack of awareness that there’s even a problem.

Throwing an unlimited number of Monkeys at typewriters may end up in a Shakespearean play being written, but throwing an unlimited number of testers in a beta test does not mean a perfect test of the application will be developed (even though some testers doth protest too much).

3. Beta Testers May Not Match Expected End-UsersOpening a web site or application to any and all testers could be opening a Pandora’s Box, in that the feedback received may be more harmful than helpful. Typically web sites and applications are targeted for specific end-user types (in usability they are referred to as Personas). If testers don’t match the profile of the expected Persona’s, then feedback collected from testers may not be appropriate, or worse, may be counter-productive.

Consider a public beta test of a web site targeted for females over the age of 55 that are interested in health information. Unless the developers have created a beta registration process that screens to match this profile of user, they may not know who is using the site, and whether the feedback they are receiving from their beta testers is accurate for that target.

4. Beta Testing Exposes Your Secret SauceMost web sites and applications have the ultimate goal of generating income for a company. Most of the time, there’s a competitive advantage of a new gee-whiz feature or function that makes using this new web site or application compelling, and makes people want to pay for it and use it.

Exposing your gee-whiz feature or function to the public for free in Beta form means others now know about it too, and can potentially reverse engineer it, or go it one better and start working on an even more exciting gee-whiz item. Your secret sauce will be out there for others, including your competitors, to see well before you may be in a position to start selling the final production version.

Alpha / Beta Web Site Testing Overview:

So here’s a summary of Alpha / Beta web site or application testing you can print out and carry with you in your purse or wallet. Collect them, trade them with your friends! Well, maybe not. Just memorize these as there will be a test later.

Next: Part III  Pros and Cons of Usability testing with a summary comparison of all three.

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Web site managers have many choices when testing their sites, including usability, A/B or Alpha/Beta testing, but which one is best, and why?

A recent Tweet from Eric Harrigan asked an intriguing question:

“If you could implement only one website testing program: A/B, Alpha/Beta or Usability, which one would you pick and why?”


I found myself thinking about this question well, to be honest I actually started thinking about this question right after I was done thinking about whether I was going to eat a Bagel or piece of Cinnamon toast for breakfast (hey, first things first and food’s first in my mind, sorry). I think (and by the way I need to place a brief disclaimer here and tell you; I’m a bit biased what with being a Certified Usability Analyst and all, so you have to consider the source) that the answer is…

“It depends”

Cop-out answer? Hardly! You see, there are positives and negatives with each web site testing method. When applied in certain circumstances, one choice may actually be a better pick than another (assuming you have to pick one).

At first, I was going to blog about the pros and cons of each of the three types. But, my post kept getting longer and longer and longer, and I began to realize that if Jakob Nielsen is right and you’re only going to read about 20% of the words on this page, I better cut this post back. Therefore I’m chopping this into 3 parts:

Part I  Pros and Cons of A/B testing (you’re reading it!)
Part II  Pros and Cons of Alpha/Beta testing
Part III  Pros and Cons of Usability testing with a summary comparison of all three.

I’d like to stop you here and mention that a smart web site manager will use all three testing methods, plus additional sources of testing, when optimizing a site, but that spoils the fun of being forced to mentally pick one, so let’s proceed.

Part I  The Pros and Cons of A/B Testing

First, let’s not assume that everyone knows what A/B testing means. I like to think of the definition of web site A/B testing as:

“Simultaneously testing an existing item against a modified version (or versions) of the item by splitting traffic evenly between the items, and measuring results.”

Wikipedia likes to think of A/B testing as:

“A/B testing, or split testing, is a method of advertising testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates.”

I actually like my definition better (but again, disclaimer, I’m biased). So, let’s examine the pros and cons of A/B testing on a web site.

Pros of Web Site A/B Testing:

1. Fast Of all the test types, A/B is way, way fast. That’s because it takes very little time to create a modified version of an existing web page that includes a modified item (like a new picture, new copy or other new element) and throw it up on your site. Then, it’s just a matter of splitting traffic to the two pages.

Results can be gained quickly too, by splitting traffic 50-50 between the existing and the test version of the pages you can measure the results in short order (assuming you have traffic to your web site that is). Scaredy-cat Cautious web site managers may wish to keep most of their traffic on the existing page, and only split 10, 20 or some other low percentage of traffic to the test page, just in case the test item doesn’t work to expectations. The result is the test might take longer. More on that in the Cons below.

2. Tests reality, not theory The good news about A/B testing on a live web site is you’re obtaining real results from real users doing real things. That means you’re not using theory, estimates, forecasts, predictions, your Horoscope or Fairy cards to base decisions on.

3. Quantifiable A/B web site testing provides actual numbers that can be compared, sliced and diced to evaluate results. Interaction, conversion, number of abandonments – all those numbers are accessible during and after testing. No guessing required!

4. Accurate Unlike other forms of web site testing, A/B testing is 100% accurate ASSUMING you have statistically significant data. Understanding error rate and statistical significance and all those other statistics terms you were supposed to be learning in Statistics class is very important. You were paying attention in Statistics class, right? If not, find someone who was and have them examine your results before assuming you’ve got accurate data. More on this in the Cons.

Cons of Web Site A/B Testing:

1. Can Hurt Web Site Results Unless you always win at everything you do (in which case I’m instantly suspicious of you, or want to go to Las Vegas with you – either way) you’re going to make some bad decisions from time to time. Remember that horrible hair style you just HAD to have that one time? Ugh!

In A/B testing that bad decision, meaning what you thought was an excellent B test item in an A/B test, may go terribly wrong. When that happens (and it will, don’t forget your whole “hair style” incident) you’re going to end up hurting your overall web site results. Be afraid, be very afraid.

True, splitting a smaller portion of traffic will reduce any potential huge catastrophe, but just remember that reduced traffic flow to a test page also means it takes longer to get enough data to make an accurate evaluation. And that takes away from the whole “A/B testing is way, way fast” thing. Dang! This stuff is harder than it looks!

2. Missing the “Why” Have you ever noticed a dog or cat staring blankly into space, at apparently absolutely nothing. WHY are they doing that?! What could possibly be in their minds?! Well, that’s the same feeling you’ll get when you use A/B testing. A/B web site testing does not explore the rationale behavioral decisions that are being made by the web site visitors.

Oh sure, you’ll see the numbers and results of the test, but you won’t know for sure WHY all those web site visitors picked the item they picked. You may have theories, but you won’t know for sure. Worse, you won’t know why they DIDN’T pick the that new and shiny and (what you thought was) totally great B item. You’ll be saying,

“Darn those users! What the heck could they possibly be thinking?! Why didn’t they pick my great B item?”

Just like trying to understand why your cat stares into space, you won’t know why A or B was picked, A/B testing can’t tell you.

3. Not Predictive A/B testing is great and all, but it can’t be used to predict future design change impacts. To a certain extent this means that you’re always stuck doing A/B testing. At some point it would be handy to be able to predict if a whole new web page, web site or application will (or won’t) work, based on fairly accurate predictions of use, without the hassle of actually having to create the web page, web site or application then test it.

Remember, A/B testing at it’s best and most accurate is “live” testing, The golden rule of A/B web site testing?

“Thou shalt not A/B test a live item vs a non-live or non-functioning item, because thou art now testing Apples and Oranges.”

4. Needs Traffic In order to provide quick, consistent and reliable results, you’re going to need a pretty good amount of traffic to your web page to run an A/B test. Remember that for the time the test is running, that traffic split will be siphoning off a percentage of your visitors from the existing page to the test page.

If you are testing on low-volume pages, then that whole “fast” and “accurate” thing just won’t be true, because you’ll need enough traffic (data) to have valid analysis, which means more time. Put another way, A/B testing works great in high-traffic areas, but becomes more problematic in lower-traffic areas.

A/B Web Site Testing Overview:

A/B testing summarySo here’s a summary of A/B web site testing you can print out and carry with you in your purse or wallet. Collect them, trade them with your friends! Well, maybe not. Just memorize these as there will be a test later.

Next: Part II  Pros and Cons of Alpha/Beta testing

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Interview with Usability Leader Daniel Szuc

Today’s interview is with a usability dynamo, Daniel Szuc. Among Dan’s significant contributions to the usability profession are: President and founding member of the Hong Kong branch of the Usability Professional’s Association, Principal Usability Consultant at Apogee Usability, Asia, co-creator of the Usability Kit, user experience author and speaker.

1. What’s your background? Where did you go to school, what subjects interested you?

Dan’s Life – Phase 1. I grew up and studied in Melbourne Australia and finished a Bachelor of Social Science (Information Management) at Melbourne University. This was a new degree at the time aimed at teaching a little about business and a little about technology.

Basically it was for people who did not have “the smarts” to do a either a full on business or computer engineering degree. The idea of the “Information Manager” is that he/she would be the bridge between the IT and the business – the person gathering IT requirements and translating these into business speak. This was the start of my interest in making technology easy to use.

2. How did you get into the usability field?

Dan’s Life – Phase 2. I started working as a Developer at Telstra Australia in a small development team at Telstra Research. I quickly discovered I had no real interest in learning programming and was not great at it. I did like the “front end” and worked as the person on the team who designed screens, created help files, wrote user manuals and walked through screens with the development team. I would also go on site to install software and train end users.

This was the beginnings of what I understood at the time as “Human Factors”. Then one day, while reading a Telstra newsletter, I noticed a job posting in a new Usability team forming to help implement User Centered Design as part of Customer Support systems. I jumped at it!

Dan’s Life – Phase 3. On that team I worked with some real pioneers and clever people in Usability/Design in Australia including Sarah Bloomer, Susan Wolfe, Gerry Gaffney, Shane Morris, Fiona Meighan and Sheryl Lumb (to name a few). People who are still in the UX field today! I was lucky to have such a great learning ground and platform.

3. What is it about usability that you most enjoy, or find most rewarding?

That there will always be design and technology problems to fix and there will always be ways to improve the “human condition.”

4. As Principal Usability Consultant at Apogee Usability Asia, what do you find are the differences, if any, between usability needs in Asian countries vs those of the west, and why?

Dan’s Life – Phase 4. The major difference is that the UX research and design field in Asia is still maturing. It’s really nice to be a part of it. The community is younger and eager to learn but still absorbing what it means to take UX methods and implement these in their own corporate cultures and teams.

There is still so much to learn on what it means to take existing product design approaches and apply them to these markets or alternatively to learn what it takes to research and design for emerging markets. Apogee’s suggestion is highlighted in an article – Don’t wait for permission to conduct your own research.

Everyone (time and monies allowing) should leave the comfort of their home city, community, friends/family and country and simply travel. Watch, listen and learn. We enjoy watching people who visit us and who may have never been to Hong Kong or mainland China before. I have lived in Hong Kong for 10 years and still have so much to learn, as I mentioned in an article, it is a constant cycle of self improvement.

5. You produced the Usability Kit in partnership with Gerry Gaffney. Why did you develop this tool kit and how do you picture it helping people that use it?

The Usability Kit was intended to be a quick and practical tool kit for people who want to do “do it yourself UX.”

So what does it take to Design with the business and users in mind? How do we know if what we design will succeed in the market? How do we think about compelling User Experiences in the first place? How do we ensure we are constantly improving our designs going forward? The kit provides end to end UX tools you can use in your projects to ensure that Usability (and User Centered Design thinking) is being implemented towards making successful products and services.

This includes everything from understanding UX, to research (understanding your customers), to design (designing with and for your customers and business stakeholders) to evaluation (seeing if what you designed actually works well for your customers) and getting constant feedback along the way. Me and Gerry are big fans of “do it yourself UX” where you don’t protect your UX knowledge, rather you teach it to as many people as possible so UX gets baked into organizational cultures.

I also talk more about this and how to sell usability together with Paul Sherman and John Rhodes, who also recently published a book on the same topic called “Selling Usability – User Experience Infiltration Tactics.

6. In addition to all your other activities, you are President and founding member of the UPA China Hong Kong branch, what do you find is so rewarding about your involvement with the UPA in general, and the Hong Kong branch in particular?

The people and the UX profession. Whether you lead with Usability, Design, IA, UX, Research (or pick your own), most people you meet in our profession are deeply passionate about improving products to help people.

It’s also fun to be exposed to different UX markets through my travels over the years. To talk about shared pain and to also look at how UX could be better positioned. I hope to be able to contribute in small and big ways for many years to come and with this nurture new leadership. As we get older and as technology usage changes, it’s important to keep connected with a younger generation of users.

7. You’ve been spending some time in seminars and on blogs regarding accessing a company’s readiness to embrace UX, why do you believe this is an important topic, and what do you believe is critical to this assessment?

Yes, and I talk about selling usability in more detail in a recent article I wrote at UXMatters. I’ll also be writing about it in Johnny Holland Magazine, as precursor to the UX Australia Conference.

It’s important because we don’t always do a great job at marketing what we do. We use our own jargon… All the time! Usability, UCD, IXD, IA. It’s not surprising that the people who buy our services don’t know what they are buying.

We should be working on a “shared language” or a “common vocabulary” towards helping ourselves sell what we do more effectively and in the process help our clients reach product success.

We all have to sell to or work with different organizations and cultures that all have different levels of receptiveness to our message. Some organizations are more ripe to the UX message than others. There are “cultural patterns” that indicate healthy interest in UX and show that people are buying into UX including (to name a few:

  • Management is using the lingo – terms like User Experience or Customer Experience are being used in presentations
  • Hired a Director or VP of UX – this does not always promise UX success because it depends on how savvy that person is in promoting their team services. But it at least shows some organisational commitment to what we do
  • Usability testing of products is a given – some process is in place for critiquing products and services with customers. There is a constant flow of customer feedback being embraced and fed back into Product Development
  • Money is flowing to bring in new UX’ers – budget has been allocated to grow UX in the organisation. The UX army is growing.
  • Product managers claim that UX is strategic advantage – some form of UX involvement has helped them improve their products, make more sales and make them look good.

8. What are your plans for the future? What are you looking forward to doing next in your career?

First, I’m attending the UPA conference. Longer term –

Dans Life – Phase 5 – More travel, more happiness, more fun and good health of course :)

I hope to learn more on what it takes to make people and products more successful.

This is an important juncture for everybody on the planet. We are continuing to make products that people don’t need. We are also not doing a great job of understanding what people’s needs are in the first place (because we don’t ask) or we don’t make them part of our design process.

The continued development of stuff we don’t need or use costs us millions of dollars and we are creating more and more stuff that either cannot be sold or that gets thrown out, creating more and more waste. This does not help us become more sustainable, and this is really the time we need to start thinking about what and how we build new stuff.

Thanks for inviting me to this interview!

And my thanks to Dan Szuc for taking the time to provide his thoughts about usability!

Daniel Szuc:

Apogee
Dan Szuc at Flickr
Dan Szuc on Twitter

Daniel Szuc’s Recommended List of Usability Reading:

1. Design is the Problem
2. The 3 Steps for Creating an Experience Vision
3. Is Your Company Designed for Humans?
4. It’s All Happening in China – A Report from User Friendly 2004
5. Usability in Hong Kong
6. UX India: Where have we come from and where do we need to go?
7. Daniel Szuc on UX in China
8. Best Careers 2009: Usability Experience Specialist
9. 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design

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Interview with Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., author of “Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?” and Chief of Technical Staff at Human Factors International

Today’s interview is with a person who has been pushing the realm of usability into the unconscious, so to speak.

Susan Weinschenk’s research and book on how the unconscious mind works in decision making processes, and how that impacts web site interactions is important information for any web developer. Why?

Because by understanding the principles impacting unconscious decisions, a web developer can create a web site or application that supports these unconscious decision-making processes, which ultimately makes for a better, more streamlined experience.

1. What is your background? Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I have a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Penn State. I started at Virginia Tech (2 years) then moved to Boston and worked during the day as a secretary and finished my bachelors in psychology at night from Northeastern University. After that was Masters and Ph.D. at Penn State. I specialized in the brain even back then… did my Ph.D. research on the left and right hemispheres.

2. How did you first get involved in usability?

In grad school I took my first computer programming course. This was way way back… before there were PCs… even before there were screens! I ran my first program using cards as input and out came a piece of paper that said, “Job Aborted.” Right then I knew that ordinary people would not be able to use computers that were this socially inept!

I began to study psychology applied to technology design. I didn’t realize that it was an actual field (human factors) until several years later when I accidentally found out about a consulting firm that was doing usability work (the word usability wasn’t really being used back then, it was called “human factors”).

Since then I’ve critiqued, designed and re-designed: many “legacy” character based applications (we didn’t call them legacy back then — they were state of the art!), many GUI applications, web applications, web sites, printer interfaces, screens on copy machines, medical devices, and even a washing machine and a microwave.

3. What is it about usability that you most like, or find rewarding?

I’m a psychologist at heart. I love thinking about, researching and designing for humans, wondering; “how will people react to this?” It’s rewarding to research users and the tasks they are trying to do and then design an interface that really works for them.

4. As Chief of Technical Staff for Human Factors International, how do you use your skills in psychology and neuro web design to make a difference for the company and your clients?

I try to keep up on the latest information in the field and transmit that to my staff who are out there working very hard every day designing for clients.

And I also do speaking and writing on Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust (PET) and my book Neuro Web Design, in order to raise the awareness level of how the new insights and research on unconscious mental processing can be applied to design more persuasive web sites.

5. Should students interested in a usability career consider a degree in psychology, why or why not?

Well, I’m a little biased! For me the basic premise behind usability is what makes people tick… and knowing about people helps immensely in doing the work.

But people come to usability from many backgrounds and they can all be successful. If you don’t have a psychology background I do think it helps to read up on the foundational research that underlies the usability principles we implement.

6. In your book “Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?” you discuss the unconscious and how it influences decisions. Why should web designers understand and use this information?

The latest research in psychology is showing us most mental processing of information occurs unconsciously. So if you want to understand what will make users make a decision or take an action you have to know about unconscious decision making.

For example, customer ratings at a web site are very powerful because they are an example of the principle of social validation. Research in social validation shows that in times of uncertainty we look to others to decide what to do. This is why customer ratings at a web site are so powerful.

And if you combine those ratings with “mini-personas”, like ebags does, where each customer gives a brief description of who they are and how they used the product (“Kathy Jones, 37, frequent business traveler) then you are combining the principle of similarity (we listen to people we think are like us) with social validation. Then the customer reviews are even more influential.

So if you understand these principles of unconscious mental processing you can build more persuasive web pages.

7. Social media usage across the world is exploding, how does neuro web design influence social media?

People are social animals. They will always take whatever the latest technology is and figure out how to make it social. Social media is intertwined with many of the principles in Neuro Web Design.

Take for example, reciprocity. Most social media makes use of the fact that if you do something for me (follow me on twitter, “poke” me on facebook) then I will feel a drive to do something similar to/for you.

8. What’s coming up next for you? What are you looking forward to working on?

What a great question. I don’t think anyone has asked me this in any of the interviews I’ve been doing… Let’s see… I’d like to write some more books, and, as always keep reading the research. Anyone have any ideas on what my next book should be?

Thank you Susan!

The study of Persuasion, Emotion and Trust and how web sites can use PET in designing a better experience has taken off in the past year or so. And when it comes to persuasion and Neuro web design, Susan Weinschenk wrote the book, literally!

Susan’s book; “Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?” is available now at Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

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