MonthJuly 2009

What makes them click ?

The other day (well, actually some weeks ago while relaxing at the beach in Kos) I read ‘Neuro Web Design – What makes them click?’ by Susan Weinschenk. (

The book is a fast and easy read (no unnecessary filler) and a good introduction on how your site’s visitors can be steered in the direction you want them to go.

The Obvious

The book handles some of the more known/proven techniques, like for example that ratings/testimonials of other people can help sell your product or service. Another well known technique it talks about is inducing a sense of scarcity/urgency in the visitor. Only 2 seats left! Buy now and get 33% off! It’s not because these are known techniques that they stop working.

Luckily 2/3rd of the book handles less obvious techniques, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth buying.

The Not So Obvious

A less known influencing technique is reciprocity. And then I’m not talking about swapping links with another website, but the fact that someone is more likely to do something for you after you did something for them first. The book cites some studies (I always love the facts and figures) and gives some actual examples of how to implement this in your site’s design, which is less obvious when you think about it. Want to know more ? Buy the book!

Other interesting sources

For a more general introduction to the same principles, I’d suggest ‘Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion’. ‘Yes!…’ cites some of the same studies (it seems there’s a rather limited pool of studies covering this subject), but of course doesn’t show how to implement these techniques in your site’s design. I read ‘Yes!…’ last year, making ‘Neuro Web Design’ just a little bit less interesting.

!!!Always make sure you’re able to measure your changes. If you haven’t yet, check out the advanced segmentation in Google Analytics (don’t be afraid because it says ‘beta’, it works just fine) and Google Website Optimizer.

Worth Buying?

Can I recommend it ? Sure, why not. I think it can be useful for anyone who ever had to think about the design or content of a site. You don’t have to be a marketing guy to want a site you’re involved with to be successful. The content/filler ratio is excellent too: you don’t need to wade through dozens of pages to filter out the interesting bits. (unlike ‘The Design of Sites’, which contains too much useless info and because it’s in dead-tree format, you can’t google it)

If you like it, you might also check out ‘Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion’.

Tip for people living in Europe: check Amazon UK for your book buying needs. Because of the low UK Pound exchange rate, it’s usually considerably cheaper and faster to get a book delivered to your doorstep by Amazon UK compared to having to order it at the local book store or web-shop.

Google Chrome OS

It’s about time someone took this initiative: Google Chrome OS

I especially like the following:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

I recently had the ‘pleasure’ witnessing several 60+ yr old friends and family (all respect for everyone in their 2nd or 3rd youth) buying their first pc, taking their first steps using a pc and the net.

Have you ever seen the gazillions of little ‘useful’ tools that are installed on a new standard Vista pc or laptop ? This is like learning to drive a new car and being placed in an airplane cockpit. And all the messages one gets about virus/security checks, fingerprint nog being enrolled, trial period expiring (because half those really useful tools come with a trial period), … If I was in their shoes, being confronted with this as a total newbie, I guess I’d just give up pretty soon. As a matter of fact, I actually gave up on Vista on my work-laptop, it was driving me crazy. Thank god I was allowed to install XP. I’m a Linux user at home, and Vista was such a frustrating experience that Windows XP actually felt like breath of fresh air.

And what are those people using? Email, browsing…. and maybe writing a little letter now and then or storing their photo’s if they have a digital camera. Actually (side note), I get the impression that hearing about facebook is a major motivator for the digital newbies to finally take the plunge, buy a pc and get on-line.

And OK, we’ve seen initiatives like this before, but Google is a brand everyone knows… unlike Ubuntu, Debain or Mandriva. Google = God. If I was Microsoft I’d be wetting my pants knowing Google was about to release their own OS, without a doubt fully optimized to use their own on-line office suit. On the other hand, the old adage ‘no one ever got fired for choosing Microsoft’ still holds a lot of truth.

I hope I’ll be able to give it a big thumbs up if a would-be pc-user asks me what kind of pc/OS they should go for in the near future.
On the other hand, if I’d do that, I’m pretty sure a couple of weeks later I’d get a call asking how to install this game or photo editing tool they got from one of their Windows using friends… or that nifty photo-printer they just bought. But then, I also get those questions now from newbie Windows users. It takes a couple of years before Newbie pc users understand that some things just don’t work and aren’t worth the time trying to fix them. I’d just wish they’d go back to the shop when something doesn’t work. You also don’t let you mechanic friend try to fix a problem with your brand new car. But that’s another story…

Wait and see…