A psychologists thoughts on Spritz and the future of digital reading

How do you read these days? Do you read physical or digital books? Have you heard of Spritzing? Here, Lisa Duddington, Digital Psychologist at Keep It Usable, looks at how reading has changed and what the digital future holds.

UX Books“I’m an avid reader, in fact my nickname is ‘the bookinator’. You can normally find me hanging out in the psychology section at Waterstones. For a long time, I just couldn’t see myself ever replacing phsyical books with digital versions. To me, part of the ‘user experience’ is looking through a book case of pretty, colourful covers, picking each one up in turn and leafing through the sheets, breathing in the smell of the paper. Each book is in itself unique, it has character. However, this all changed when I jumped onboard the Kindle revolution. I can now carry hundreds of books with me in my handbag and that’s pretty amazing! However, there’s a new player about to come onto the market called Spritz that will radically change how we all read and could see an end to current eReaders.”

What is Spritz?

Spritz uses a very small interface to present just one word at a time. One letter in each word is coloured red and this is representative of the ORP (Optimal Recognition Point). It’s basically the point within the word that you’re most likely to recognise and therefore read the word optimally.

Have a go for yourself. Focus on the red letter and try to relax, using your peripheral vision to read each word. If you feel like you can go faster, try adjusting the wpm.

spritz 250wpm
spritz 500wpm

How does it work?

With Spritz, your eyes focus in one position, as opposed to having to move to read the rest next words. This is where Spritz makes a huge difference to the speed at which you read. 80% of your reading time is actually spent moving your eyes from one word to the next. Without this movement, you can achieve hugely increased WPM (word per minute) reading times.

80% of your reading time is actually spent moving your eyes.

Although this sounds incredible and I’m sure you’re already thinking about how many books and emails you could now get through in a day, what is questionable is the ability of the brain to process and store this information as deeply.

Information processing

How many times have you had to read and re-read a paragraph of text because you were distracted or you simply needed further understanding? Do you ever pause when reading a book to reflect on what you’ve just read? Does you’re reading slow down and speed up in reaction to the content? All of these things show the limits of Spritzing.

The appeal of Spritzing for many will be in reading easy to digest fiction books. However, non-fiction books are less suited. Our pace of reading is naturally slower when we’re learning, digesting and questioning, making sense of and understanding anything new. We’re also more likely to re-read paragraphs so Spritz wouldn’t really be suitable.

CEO of Spritz, Frank Walden says “If you’re reading Shakespeare, you’re not going to want to do it with Spritz, but with a romance novel, for example, people skim like crazy anyway. They just rip through a book, reading for plot. Are they savoring every word? Probably not.”

Spritz Mobile

Less emotion

One of the downsides of Spritzing is a lack of emotion in the words due to the speed. When we read we naturally tend to subvocalise (we hear the characters voice in our heads). However, when we read at speed we lose the ability to subvocalise, giving less emotion to the words.

More concentration, less control

As Spritz requires the user to look in one place and the words flash quickly, it can feel like it requires increased concentration and focus. There’s a feeling of ‘I can’t look away or I’ll miss a word’. With the constant movement we wonder if there will be any physical side effects, such as motion sickness. Will there be a tendency for users to blink less?

What’s unanswered right now is how the user controls the Spritz. If you’re interrupted, how do you get back to where you were? Whereas in a book you may recall you were about halfway down the page and relocate your position fairly quickly, with Spritz’s one word at a time presentation, this may be time consuming and difficult.

The future of digital

How would you like to read 50 emails in 7 minutes?

This will have some really interesting effects on future digital devices and interfaces. It adds a whole new world of possibility for showing lots of information, quickly, on very small screens. We’re now going through a phase of larger screens but Spritzing could change all of this. Imagine being able to read a whole novel on a bracelet, or check your emails on your ring. It could also be the perfect pairing for Google Glass. Imagine Spritzing within adverts – marketers would be able to show a lot more information within a much smaller space and people would in theory read more of it in a single glance.

Smart watches have struggled to gain mainstream popularity. They’re bulky and don’t really offer anything over and above the smartphone. The small screen poses difficult interaction with the interface, and makes reading things like emails a rather more painful process. Spritz could well be the trigger the smart watch needs to gain mass market popularity.

Spritz on Smartwatch

The possibilities of how this could effect future technology are really exciting! Let’s Spritz!

A psychological explanation of why consumers love colour choice

iphone5c colours

Whenever colour choice is discussed with consumers, we have always seen a positive reaction

Apple have finally done it with the iPhone 5C! They’ve launched coloured handsets in keeping with their other famously colourful products. Will consumers like coloured phones? Will they appeal to the mainstream user?

For those of you who follow @usabilitygal on Twitter or have spoken to Lisa in the past, you’ll know that for years she’s been championing colour choice in mobile handsets and it’s been a bug bear that there is so little choice for consumers other than boring, dull colours such as black, dark grey, navy and white. Most people disagreed, their explanation being that a wide variety of colourful cases was all that consumers needed. Sell mobiles in monochrome colours and let people pimp them up if they so desired.

Unfortunately, this limited viewpoint relies on the consumer at the point of purchase having the imagination to envisage each mobile in a colourful case that they haven’t yet even begun to think about. Therefore, one of the major purchase factors is in fact colour.

We’ve conducted hundreds of research interviews and usability tests with mobile users which is why we’ve always been champions of colour choice and personalisation. That’s not to say that you should let people have free reign, people need boundaries and limits otherwise we’ll just see a repeat of MySpace in the 90s all over again!

Whenever colour choice is discussed with consumers, we have always seen a positive reaction, particularly with the female market. We feel that the female consumer has been hugely overlooked in the tech world and unless more women take board positions within tech companies, the only way companies will be able to adapt to the female consumers needs is to listen to them. Simply, conduct research.

So, why is having the choice to personalise a design through the use of colour so appealing to people?

Extension of the self

When people buy products that will be shown and used in public, there is an added social acceptance dimension in the purchase decision – what will other people think? This is where it becomes more difficult to predict human behaviour. People have a multitude of reasons for why they buy something, and if that product is both a high purchase price and something that a wide variety of people in both their current and future social circles will see, the decision becomes more complex, weighty and important.

The mobile becomes a reflection of you, your status in life, your personality, your desires… Knowing this, people will often choose a product that is not a reflection of who they are currently, but who they want to be in the future. It becomes a status symbol of their future self.

Colour helps this expression of themselves as we know through the many articles that have been written on colour psychology – is your personality a bold, confident red or a friendly, reserved blue? Are you a blue but want others to see you as a red so you purchase a red product? Whatever the reasons, people like a choice of colour and are often conscious of what that choice indicates to others about them.

Increased emotional attachment

Admit it, you have an emotional attachment to your mobile don’t you? Most people admit to feeling like a piece of them is missing when they are without their mobile. Increased personalisation increases the amount of human-device attachment that a person experiences. It becomes an expression and extension of themselves which brings with it an increased emotional bond.

Fun

Quite simply, having a colourful phone is more fun! Who wants to look at boring black all day long? Bring on bold, bright colours that make you feel alive, energetic, playful and happy :)

Choice and increased control

iyengar jam

Who doesn’t love choice! In studies it’s been shown that people love choice, well, they say they love choice ‘the more options the better!’ however in practise this isn’t the case at all. Famous studies that demonstrate the paradox of choice, such as, the jam experiment by Iyengar, prove that when given too much choice people actually don’t make a choice at all. Why? The crux of the issue is that people fear making the wrong choice. Lots of choices puts a lot of demand on the person to weigh up each choice, it’s pros, it’s cons, the implications of making the wrong choice, how they’ll feel if their choice is the wrong one, etc. Given a few choices, people are more likely to make a purchase, will feel more confident about their decision and happier afterwards.

Choice equals more control and a greater feeling of power. Providing more colours for the iPhone 5C is giving more control back to the consumer.

 

10 psychology techniques to drive behaviour

If you want to increase your engagement metrics, increase page views, increase the amount of enquiries and much more then follow these simple techniques.

1. Know your audience

Know your users

If you don’t know who your audience is then you won’t know what makes them tickYou can’t persuade people if you don’t know much about them. Knowing your audience helps you to shape your message in a way that’s most likely to gain their acceptance. That’s all the more important when your goal is to persuade, and not simply to inform.

2. Speak the same language

Speak the same language

Once you know who your audience is, you need to make sure you communicate with them in an effective manner. This involves speaking their language, using phrases and expressions they’re familiar with, limiting unfamiliar words where possible. The tone of voice and content should match the level and knowledge of your audience. If it’s too technical or not technical enough you will lose the user.

3. Stay concise

Stay concise

People will actually read more your text, the less text you write. Why? People are busy, they’re bombarded by text and adverts all day every day and there’s an internet full of content for them to sift through for answers. Long paragraphs of text drive people away so make sure you keep your content short and snappy, full of content, not waffle.

4. Use good layout

Eye tracking

People scan content for things that stand out to them. If nothing interests them they’ll head off somewhere else. To make sure they’re able to get a good overview of your content within a few seconds, make sure that content is sectioned with good headings, that key words visually stand out (i.e. bold them or use colour), make use of bullets, use white space to draw attention to things and let content breathe, and of course use good imagery leads us nicely to our next point.

5. Use engaging imagery

Whirlpool toaster

People are drawn to imagery over text. In eye tracking studies, people are instantly drawn to photographs on a page. Our brains are wired to prefer visuals, they are processed faster and enable us to draw quicker conclusions. In short, people prefer them. However, it isn’t quite as simple as that. You need to ensure any images you use appeal to your target audience. They also need to feel real so don’t be tempted to use stock imagery (unless it’s really good). People see through stock imagery, they know you’ve paid for the images and they aren’t authentic, this reflects on you as a business. Where possible, use real photos that do a great job of appealing to your audience and reflecting your purpose for the imagery.

6. Make use of video

If you want to get your message across and have it remembered, video has the advantage (over just reading text) of communicating social and emotional information, not just facts. If the video shows your company, products, testimonials… it can give your business instant credibility and authenticity. The human brain is drawn to moving imagery, sounds, emotion which is why video can be a powerful tool for increasing audience engagement.

7. Cats

Keep It Usable Cats

The Keep It Usable cats! Bowie and Ramos.

Cats are one of the most searched terms on the internet right now. We’re not really suggesting you use cats (unless your target audience enjoy them) but it can be a clever technique to make use of trends, what’s fashionable and popular right now. You need to use content that engages with your end users. You’ve heard of the Harlem Shake? You’ve seen all the youtube memes? If your business appeals to that audience then why not jump onboard and produce your own version!

8. Use stories

Once upon a time

From as far back as history takes us, humans have used stories to pass on knowledge. Why did they do this? We remember stories. When stories are told, the recipient recreates the feelings inside themselves. We can’t help it. Inside all of our brains we have mirror neurons and these literally mirror what we’re seeing or hearing. This is why when we watch a sad film, we feel sad too, the brain lives it it for the first time, as if it’s our own experience. Because stories use so many of our senses, we are also able to remember them easily.

 

9. Use real people

UX books

This is me. You’ll make instant judgements within milliseconds of looking at this photo. A picture really does speak a thousand words.

Do you know what fascinates people? People. Do you know who people trust the most? People like them. Use content and imagery that is yours. This could be testimonials from your customers or photographs of real people (not models or stock imagery) using your product. Show images of you, your employees, your workplace, etc too. The more real your company feels, the more honest and trustworthy it will appear to be. In the photo above you’ll see me pointing at our vast collection of UX related books. What instant judgements did you make? Have another look and see if you were right.

You’d be right if you thought that I… love reading, I love learning, I prefer physical books as opposed to digital. You will also have made assumptions about me as a person and my lifestyle. There’s a lot you will gather from a photo or image that is subconscious and conscious. An image really does speak a thousand words.

 

10. Clear call-to-action

Clear call to action

FileShare HQ have a clear call-to-action. They know what they want users to do.

Give the user a place to go next. Too often, we see website pages and software that doesn’t clearly guide the user to the next step you wish them to take. For every page, decide what you want the user to do next and make sure there is a clear path to take them there. If you want them to call you then show your telephone number and tell them to call you. If you want them to buy from you then ensure your call-to-action is a nice visual button that stands out on the page.

Persuasion within design: Use it or lose it

Here at Keep It Usable, we’ve been studying and applying persuasion and psychology within our designs for many years, but recently it’s gained much more awareness and businesses are beginning to wake up to the huge impact it can have on sales.

Traditionally, marketers, web managers, business owners were mainly reliant on marketing strategies and visual design to capture attention and convert customers. However, where this failed was in understanding the customer and end user. It’s the same if your company focusses too much on A/B and multivariate testing – you’re making changes blindly and just hoping for the best if you haven’t conducted enough user research to start with.

Changing a button colour or text may give you a conversion increase but if you haven’t had any dialogue with your users you have no idea if you’re giving them what they expect, need and want. It’s these things that have the biggest impact. Not only will it inform your design now, but everyone in the company will have a greater understanding of the user and what they want, which can lead to better future ideas.

What is persuasive design?

Persuasive design is based on understanding the end user and using psychological design techniques to increase those persuasive factors that encourage and nudge a user to take action. There are many persuasive factors, including and not limited to, trust, credibility, authenticity, reciprocity, scarcity, motivators to act (free, sex and food being the most common). The skill is in identifying and knowing which will appeal to your audience and which to present at the right time to motivate the desired action. It’s not a case of simply adding everything to your home page and sitting back whilst the clicks roll in, unfortunately it takes skill, timing, an experienced designer, user research, and an understanding of the users psychological buying process to create the perfect momentum to drive the desired behaviour.

Amazon: Masters of persuasive design

We see persuasive design elements used a lot within Amazon’s website. Here are a few examples that are easy to spot.

Imagery

Amazon ImagesEver wondered why people prefer images to reading text? It’s a scientific fact. Our brains respond more quickly to images, they take less time to process which causes us to like them more. So, wherever possible you should display images of your product or service. People like to see visuals of what they’re buying, it helps them to understand and feel confident of their purchase. If it’s done right, imagery can also greatly increase trust in your company and give you credibility, however, be careful because when done badly it can lose you a lot of business. We don’t recommend using stock photos – users know they are fake and that feeling transfers to your business.

People like to imagine how things will look and feel in real life. This is why showcasing multiple imagery of the same product and videos are now commonplace. Fashion and clothing websites benefit dramatically from showcasing videos – people want to see how the garment will look on their body and the movement of the fabric tells them a lot about how it might feel to wear.

The power of FREE

Free is one of the biggest persuaders, which is why it is used in every type of industry. Have you seen the big campaign by Graze at the moment? They’re offering one free box to every new customer as well as offering existing customers a free box for every friend that joins (clever hey?). It did take Amazon a while to offer free delivery on all items (remember when you had to spend £5?) and the fact that they’ve kept the delivery free says a lot – it’s working! Paying for delivery adds extra cost to the user, as well as concerns about the cost of sending the item back should it not be suitable. We call these concerns ‘barriers’ and each barrier to purchase adds up to one huge barrier that results in you losing a potential customer. This is why user research and usability testing is so important – it enables us to identify all psychological barriers to purchase so we can not only remove them, but add in elements that address these concerns at the crucial point.

Power of free

You won’t identify psychological barriers like having to pay for delivery (and understand why this is such a problem) by A/B testing alone. You can only gain rich information by talking to your users, getting inside their mind, understanding their daily lives, how your product or website fits in, how it can help them, what’s stopping them using it, what concerns and worries do they have, etc, etc. It’s REALLY important!

Social proof: Reviews

What do you think Amazon is? A product retailer? Surprisingly, they’re primarily a review site. Most people who visit Amazon go there to check out the reviews, even if they intend to purchase the product elsewhere. In user studies, when given tasks, users will often visit Amazon before continuing with their task on the intended site. Reviews are the key reason for this and Amazon know it! That’s why you have to scroll right down the page past all the things they want to cross-sell to you before you can get to what they know you’re there for: the reviews. Their hope is to distract you with similar purchases, free delivery, what other people have bought and all the other lovely things they hope will catch your eye.

Reviews
Customer reviews are very powerful. They give what you’re trying to sell credibility and increase trust. The more the buyer is like them, the more their concerns mirror their own, the more trust and reassurance the user will feel. Most people don’t want to be the first to try something, they want to know someone’s taken the risk before them. People fear making the wrong choice so your aim is to remove or at least lessen that fear, thereby removing another barrier to purchase. A good review placed at the optimal stage in the user journey can be the psychological edge the user needs to feel the pull towards purchasing.

Encouraging cross-sells and exploration

What if users decide not to buy what’s on the page? Amazon try to direct the user to other products they may want to purchase. There are two ways in which they do this but their aim is the same: keep the user within Amazon and increase the likelihood they will see something they want to purchase. Amazon showcase ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ and ‘What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?’ They’re pretty much the same and as people don’t really read text what matters is that they see something that captures their interest and keeps them engaged until they eventually purchase.

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 10.31.38

This isn’t just a clever use of social proof, it works because it’s likely that if you like the product you’re looking at, you’ll also like what most other people looked at or bought. The fact is that although we like to think we’re all individual, we’re more predictable and alike than we want to believe.

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 10.32.11

Further information and advice

Lisa Duddington

We hope you enjoyed this article that only touches briefly on how you can use persuasion within design.

If you’d like any help or if you’d simply like to know more about how persuasive design and user research could help your business, get in touch with us right now and ask for Lisa.

 

You might also like:

Dog driving carHow to make dogs drive cars and users click buttons >

How to make dogs drive cars and users click buttons

Who would have thought that dogs could be taught to drive cars or that double the amount of users would click a button just through a simple design tweak.

Behaviour is fascinating. Not only can we research, analyse and understand behaviour, it is possible to then actively and deliberately change it. It isn’t easy or quick but if you get it right the results can be incredible. But human behaviour has deep, complex motivations and meanings which is why it’s vitally important to have at least one person involved in your project who has a solid background in psychology.

A good starting point for understanding behaviour is the work of BJ Fogg. His behaviour model states that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behaviour does not occur, it means that at least one of these key elements is missing.

Dogs driving cars

Take a look at the following video, yes they really are dogs driving cars!

In the video of cars being driven by dogs we can clearly see all three elements that cause the desired behaviour. The dog’s motivation is to get a treat and please it’s trainer. It has the ability to press the buttons. And the trigger is the command given by the trainer. If any of these elements were missing the trigger would fail.

BJ Fogg’s behaviour model

Motivation + Ability + Trigger = Success or Failure

BJ Fogg Behaviour model

Making people click buttons

Enticing users to click buttons is a lot more difficult but it follows the same principles of people having the motivation to click to the next step, the ability and the trigger. The only certain way to know which is not being fulfilled is to conduct user research and if you have the budget include eye tracking as eye movements are directly linked to the brain and can tell the researcher more detailed information about what’s really going on inside the user’s head. It allows the analyst to know precisely where the user is looking (what grabs their attention and interest that should/shouldn’t be), for how long and in what order. Don’t confuse this kind of research with basic usability testing. This kind of behavioural insight research needs highly qualified specialist researchers who understand and can successfully analyse and interpret human behaviour with interfaces.  Contact professionals.

The researcher will identify what is stopping the desired behaviour from occurring. For example, if you have very high traffic on a page but not many people converting, the researcher would investigate the underlying causes. It could be that a vital piece of information required by the user in their decision making process to buy from you is missing or that the process of purchasing from you doesn’t meet their expectations based on similar experiences with competitors.

Psychological buying process

Psychological needs of buyers

The best ux designers understand psychology. We use research findings to identify and add psychological triggers and persuasive elements that are needed to convert people into buyers. UX design should never be confused with traditional design.  It is only by understanding the user completely that we create designs that work. Once we understand and then meet the user’s psychological needs and desires, we can turn them into a buyer (see above diagram).

Speak to our specialist expert

Are there pages of your website or software that should be getting more clicks?

Would your product benefit from user research, behavioural analysis and insight?

persuasive design expert

If you’d like to chat to an expert in behavioural research and persuasive design, ask for Lisa via our contact form. She has many years experience helping brands, conducting research and analysing behaviour. Lisa is qualified up to MSc level and is highly respected within usability / user experience.

Psychology Corner: Cocktail Party Effect

cocktailHave you ever been chatting to someone at a crowded, noisy party, when you suddenly hear your name being mentioned in another conversation? Yet you can’t recollect any of the conversation prior to this moment.

How were you able to detect a word (your name) in a conversation that you were ignoring?  How can you ignore something and yet at the same time hear it?

This is how the psychological term the ‘Cocktail Party Effect’ (Cherry, 1953) got its name.

 

Our ability to pay attention to a single conversation, whilst filtering out all other background noise, only to then switch at ease and tune in to the other conversations around us is remarkable and over the years, psychologists and scientists have struggled to fully understand or agree on how we are able to do this.

However, revealing how the brain can so effectively focus on a single voice is a problem of keen interest to the companies that make consumer technologies because of the tremendous future market for all kinds of electronic devices with voice-active interfaces. While the voice recognition technologies that enable such interfaces as Apple’s Siri have come a long way in the last few years, they are hugely unreliable, unusable in noisy environments and nowhere near as sophisticated as the human speech system.

An average person can walk into a noisy room and have a private conversation with relative ease — as if all the other voices in the room were muted. But replicating this technically is incredibly difficult. In fact the engineering required to separate a single intelligible voice from a cacophony of speakers and background noise remains a major challenge for state-of-the-art automatic voice recognition algorithms.

Test out your own ability to distinguish between multiple conversations >>>

 

20 FREE eBooks you need to design an outstanding user experience / ux

Here are 20 free online ux books that will help designers to create a better user experience / ux and improved usability.

1 Mental Models in Human-Computer Interaction: Research Issues About What the User of Software Knows by John M. Carroll and Judith Reitman Olson

2 HCI Models, Theories and Frameworks: Toward a Multi-disciplinary Science by John M. Carroll

3 Search User Interfaces by Marti A. Hearst

4 Designing Interfaces by Jenifer Tidwell (patterns only)

5 Designing Mobile Interfaces by Steven Hoober and Eric Berkman

6 Web Style Guide by Patrick J. Lynch and Sarah Horton

7 Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design by Shawn Henry

8 Building accessible websites by Joe Clark

9 The Fable of the User-Centered Designer by David Travis

10 Converting The Believers by usereffect

11 Elements of psychology by Henry N. Day.

12 Learning, Remembering, Believing: Enhancing Human Performance by Daniel Druckman and Robert A. Bjork

13 Psychology and Industrial Efficiency by Hugo Münsterberg

14 Getting Real by 37 Signals

15 Time Management for Creative People by Mark McGuinness

16 Designing for the web by Five Simple Steps

17 Taking your talent to the web by Jeffrey Zeldman

18 CSS Cookbook

19 Knock Knock by Seth Godin

20 Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML by Elisabeth Freeman, Eric Freeman

and here’s one extra! ;)
UX Storytellers by Jan Jursa
UX Storytellers