Web & Mobile Design

How Consumer Psychology Influences Web Design

Noga Nitzan
December 14, 2016
web design psychology

Author Tegan Denwood is a content writer for shop4pop.com, providers of big brand printing for all budgets.

Whether you’re a business owner, marketer or contractor working in the world of web design, understanding the unique thought processes that drive users to purchase is key to influencing their buying behavior. If you’ve got your eye on increased online conversions, the good news is that you have a powerful arsenal of psychological tools at your disposal. Together, these can help you to guide visitors seamlessly through your site, right to the proverbial checkout. Today, we’re taking a closer look at five ways that the principles of consumer psychology help company owners and web designers to create sites that are built to convert.

Less is more

The ‘less is more’ theory (also known as the ‘paradox of choice’) revolves around one simple concept: an online user faced with too many choices may not make a decision at all. Bombarding shoppers with an excess of options poses a number of problems. First and foremost, the moment a visitor lands on your site, they begin their customer journey - and if their route isn’t made clear to them, competing messages and complicated paths may put them off entirely. Secondly, an overwhelming number of options can create a sense of anxiety with regards to the possibility that we may make the wrong decision. In times of hesitation, many of us simply opt out. To avoid leaving your site visitors vulnerable to the paradox of choice, keep your calls to action clear and concise and remove any barriers to a simple and satisfying online journey.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

Two particularly influential concepts within the world of marketing are exclusivity and urgency. Whether you’re opening up exciting deals to a select few or promoting limited-time-only offers, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a highly effective trigger which places the appropriate amount of pressure on a user, in order to inspire them to take action. FOMO is a phenomenon which both online retailers and brick-and-mortar store owners use to their advantage in pursuit of product sales - with point of sale displays like the humble dump bin serving as a tangible in-store equivalent of exclusive, time-sensitive online offers. Create a sense of urgency around online discounts, bulk-buy bargains and limited availability products to demonstrate to your online visitors that the window of opportunity won’t be open forever.

Social proof

Endorsement is a powerful motivator when it comes to the buying decisions we make - and it’s widely acknowledged that we are instinctively drawn to products, services, and/or brands that our peers trust or recommend. The ‘social proof’ phenomenon is based on the idea that we believe a large group of people is likely to know more than we do as an individual and, as a result, we trust in their collective opinion. From social shares to online reviews, each individual endorsement a brand accumulates contributes to its overall (perceived) trustworthiness. Find a place on your website for case studies, testimonials and star ratings. Reputation fuels brand recognition and, by spreading the word about your satisfied customers or clients in the most accessible way, you can earn some coveted brand loyalty points.

Information gap theory

The ‘information gap’ lies between what we know and what we want to know - and it’s in this chasm that a world of possibility lies for web designers. The first step, is of course, to make the user aware of what they have yet to learn - and from there, provide the information they want in an accessible, digestible format. Understanding exactly what your audience wants to know more about and why will allow you to optimize your website to deliver maximum satisfaction to every visitor. Examine the contents of your website through a potential customer’s eyes. Is it presented in such a way that users will be tempted to learn more about your offering, and can you truly say that your onsite content delivers on the promises it makes?


All the best customer relationships are mutually beneficial. Reciprocal value is of the utmost importance to shoppers - and from clothing retailers to software as a service (SaaS) companies, users expect to be rewarded by businesses for their loyalty. The idea of getting something for nothing is enticing in itself - but the key is to offer visitors something they will find genuinely beneficial. As always, added value is the name of the game.Consider how you could give potential customers an incentive to buy, or give back to those who’ve bought from you in the past. Showing your customer base gratitude for placing trust in your brand is one thing but, if you can offer them something useful (and, even more importantly, exclusive) to say thank you, you’re far more likely to see them on your site again in the future.Web design can ultimately be reduced to one golden rule: give the people what they want. Whether that’s no-nonsense site navigation, expert information on your specialist subject or something in return, by harnessing the principles of consumer psychology, you can keep the customer satisfied.

How has consumer psychology influenced your brand’s web or mobile app design? Tell us in the comments below!

Noga Nitzan
Senior Product Manager and Lead of the Buyer Experience Group @ Fiverr. Hoping to always improve Fiverr for buyers by creating the ultimate solution for their needs.
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