Black Friday: Consumer psychology of grabbing a bargain

This year, online sales over the 24-hour Black Friday period are expected to surpass £1bn for the first time in UK history (last year they were £810m). £3.5bn in sales are expected over the whole weekend. For retailers, Black Friday is a huge sales opportunity but also creates pressure to keep up with the Joneses and discount items to an uncomfortable level. Combine this with the instore chaos we saw in the UK last year and it’s a pretty crazy time!

For Americans, Black Friday symbolises the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season. They take the Friday after Thanksgiving off from work, taking advantage of the long weekend to start their Christmas shopping.

Although Black Friday is still not very popular in Europe, in the UK it has very quickly become the biggest shopping day of the year, even beating Boxing Day.

The figures speak for themselves…

In 2014, UK consumers spent £810m online on Black Friday and they are expected to spend even more this year. According to IMRG & Experian, online sales will reach £1.07bn. If that prediction is correct, online sales will reach a record in the UK’s online retailing history, exceeding for the first time £1bn in just 24 hours.

The Centre for Retail Research estimates that in total (combining online and in store shopping) British people will spend £1.39Bn in just one day, this is 32% more than the previous year.

Black Friday Sales

Telegraph, 23 November 2015.

Who are Black Friday Shoppers?

First of all, let’s understand who are Black Friday typical shoppers: (IMRG 21 October 2015,

  • Typically families with children
  • Aged between 35-55
  • Living in suburban or residential locations; they don’t have easy access to shops
  • Facebook users
  • Regular consumers of content on mobile devices

Compare this with Boxing Day shoppers who are more likely to be younger and live in urban city centres.

Their demographic profile has important implications for retailers. For example, considering that the most Black Friday shoppers don’t live in the city centre and don’t have easy access to shops, attention should be put in to planning and optimising the delivery service or in communicating details about deals, coupons, opening times, etc, through social media, to enable costumers to plan and organise their shopping.

How are Black Friday customers shopping?

(Simpson L., Taylor L., O’Rourke K. and Shaw K. (2011). An Analysis of Consumer Behaviour on Black Friday, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, Vol. 1 No.1)

  • They already have a specific product in mind
  • They buy particularly electronic media items
  • More willing to buy gift items rather then items for themselves

This year, consumers will be even more aware about the convenience of buying on Black Friday and shops will be even more crowded than last year, lines outside will be longer and tension will grow faster among the more competitive ones.

Last year, Black Friday was definitely a success, but retailers weren’t ready to deal with, quite frankly, the chaos that ensued amongst consumers, to the point that some of them have decided not to take part again this year. One of the most surprising retailers not taking part this year is American owned Asda, who will instead offer discounts spread across November and December.

Daily Mail, 28 November 2014, Manchester.


Why is Black Friday more aggressive than other UK sales days

Last year, the situation got so chaotic that Telegraph renamed the day as “The Black and Blue Friday”. People queued in the cold outside shops for hours, then running and fighting their way to the product they wanted. But it’s not like this on Boxing Day or any other sale day in the UK…

So, what’s transformed the decent and respectable UK shopper into a merciless shopping, fighting machine?  Frustration can be a reasonable answer.

A lot of psychologists tried to find explanations and causes of aggressive behaviours and the Frustration-Aggression Theory (Dollard, Neal, Miller, at al. 1939; Berkowitz, 1969) is one of the hypothesis proposed to explain the phenomenon. The authors support the idea that when people perceive that they are being prevented from achieving a goal, their frustration is likely to turn to aggression and violence. The closer you get to a goal, the greater the excitement and expectation and consequently the more frustrated you get by being stopped.

The theory doesn’t suggest that frustration always lead to aggression, but in some particular circumstances can boost aggressive behaviours.

Black Friday might be one of those above mentioned circumstances.

Sales psychology: Why sales drive shoppers

Psychologists say that the allure of a bargain speaks to our human nature. Limited-time offers and last chance buys trigger the fear of scarcity and Fear of loss that drive us to buy. It makes us buy things we don’t really need, simply because we might not have the opportunity to buy them so cheaply again. IT’s how you end up with boxes of shoes in the cupboard that you never wear but you thought were an absolute bargain at the time you bought them with 70% off!

“People truly want to get a good deal, and so they might be less rational… when they can look in the environment and find different cues that make them think they’re getting a good deal, the decision-making is emotional” Kenneth Manning, professor at Colorado State University.

Did you know that sales drive our competitive spirit? We want to tell other about the great deal we got and we hope ours was better than theirs (even if we didn’t really need the item in the first place!). People treat it as a personal accomplishment to boast about.

Sales also have a positive affect our brain chemistry. In 2007, Stanford researchers discovered that when subjects shopping for clothes saw a sale price, the brain’s pleasure centre lit up. Sales, in other words, make us happy.

The sales environment also triggers consumers to part with their cash: “We are classically conditioned to hear this music, see these lights, even the experience of the shorter days and associate it with spending and shopping,” says Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist

So, be ready, 2015 Black Friday is just around the corner (27th November) and we hope and wish will be a good one, for both shoppers and retailers!

Starbucks in Italy? An Italian customer experience perspective

Italian Starbucks

Starbucks is coming to Italy in February. You might think this isn’t a big deal but for the Italian market it really is! Italian’s are precious about their coffee and their drinking habits differ greatly to those of the US and UK. The whole customer experience is different, which is why the opening of Starbucks in Italy is so controversial…

First of all, it’s interesting to know that Starbucks has an ancient bond with Italy; originally, Starbucks sold only coffee beans, but after a journey to Italy, the owner had the idea to recreate and export “caffetteria-style shops”.

Italian coffee drinking behaviour

From an Italian point of view (Yes, I’m Italian), coffee is not just a drink: it’s a ritual, a chit chat with the barista, it’s the best end after a good meal, it’s the perfect “good morning”, it’s a pleasant and quick break, but above all, it has to be short, black, bitter and served in a small ceramic cup (very hot).

Typically, an Italian will enter the coffee shop, simply ask for a coffee (which is an espresso – this is the standard drink), stand up at the counter, drink the coffee which takes just a few minutes, then leave.

You can see that both the drink and the behaviour differ a lot from the typical Starbucks experience.

In this scenario, will Italian consumers appreciate Starbucks Americano, Latte or Frapuccino? Will they buy coffee served in the famous cardboard cup? How will they reply to the renowned question “stay in or takeaway”?

In Naples, the south of Italy, the “coffee ritual” is even stronger than in the north. There’s a popular tradition called “caffè sospeso”, literally translated as “pending coffee”. It’s rooted into the Naples’ working-class culture, and basically consists of having an espresso but paying for two, leaving one on the counter, ready for the next costumer, as a symbol of good luck and an act of “charity”.

Will the Italian consumers pay for a “frappucino sospeso” or a “pending latte”? What will happen?

Image taken from “La banda degli onesti”. Totò, a famous Italian comedian and actor, drinking a coffee at the counter.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper wrote: “We thought we had everything in Italy, but it turns out we lacked one thing: American coffee”.

Coffee for Italians is part of their culture, their behaviour, a national identity and habit; and Starbucks knows it. Even more important, Starbucks have had to really know Italian customers before making the decision to open a branch in Italy. It’s no coincidence that the first Italian Starbucks will open in Milan, the most international city in Italy, heart of Italian business, fashion and a highly multicultural centre.

What are the opportunities and potential barriers of having Starbucks in Italy?

The opportunities

  • The company announced that they will promote Starbucks as a place for business meetings as well as a cozy spot where to relax; an intimate coffee shop in the heart of the business area of Milan, where you can work or sip a coffee with friends.
  • Free WIFI will be the main attraction for Italian customers. There aren’t many places in Milan where you can find free and fast WIFI.
  • A hi-tech + coffee formula. Technology will be the key differentiator for Italian Starbucks. Along with free WIFI, customers will have access to a “Starbucks digital network” streaming movies and tv shows.

Potential barriers

  • Deeply rooted coffee culture. Italian customers have a strong bond with their habits, particularly when it comes to coffee and food.
  • There are thousands of coffee shops, bars and ‘caffetterias’ in Milan where you can enjoy a high quality espresso with a snack (biscuits or a pastry) and where you can simply read a newspaper with a good cappuccino.
  • Starbucks is expensive compared to the Italian coffee prices. In Italy, one espresso costs 1€ or even less.
  • For most of the time, “having a coffee” for Italians, means having a quick break, standing up at the counter. Particularly in the afternoon or after lunch. It is not the long sit down break that is common in other countries.
  • It is not common for Italian business consumers to sit in a coffee shop and work on the laptop or meet in a public space.

A traditional bar-caffetteria in Milan – Bar Zucca. People drinking a coffee at the counter.

The “Starbucks Italian situation” is a great example of the importance of how understanding customers is crucial in order to offer an efficient and successful product.

Moving into the Italian market is a huge risk for Starbucks, however by first opening in Milan, they will be able to take advantage of the large tourist market. It is the least risky option for them and a gentle step into the Italian market to test their acceptance of the longer coffee drinking customer experience.

If you need to understand or test in other markets, we can help. Get in touch with Keep It Usable >

How just one word can change your conversion

How just one word can change your conversionLayout, images, colours, fonts are equally important in order to provide users with a pleasant online experience and increase the conversion rate of a website. The design of a website is crucial, but it’s not the only factor that we should take into consideration.

Users should be guided and helped in making a purchase decision on a website; they need to have enough information in order to make an informed decision and the navigation has to flow smoothly. But, is that enough?

Changing just one word can have a huge impact on your conversion rate.

Choosing the right way to say something is fundamental, particularly if the aim is to prompt users to take an action, like buying your products or creating an account.

Choosing the right word(s)

Unfortunately there is no universal answer or solutions.

Since words acquire meanings only when considered in context, knowing which words are better then others, means knowing the context, observing users moving and behaving in that context and constantly putting yourself in their shoes.

It is very important to keep testing, particularly in relation to CTA buttons, as shown in the following case studies.

Understanding your customer’s psychology, behaviour and intention is the secret to effective CTA copy.

Example: ‘Buy now’ vs ‘Shop now’ have a ‘Buy Now’ CTA button on their product pages. Some of the team thought that changing the wording to something less committal like ‘Shop Now’ might encourage greater click throughs. Others on the team thought the wording change could imply a longer purchase process. So they decided to test both variations to see which resulted in greater conversion.


Current CTA: ‘Buy now’. May imply a faster and shorter process to purchase.

Variation: ‘Shop now’.  May imply less commitment and therefore encourage more clicks.


17% more users clicked on ‘Buy Now’ rather than ‘Shop Now’.

The small variation in text had a huge impact on the final result. This represented a six-figure difference in the online sales of the product.


The next action is clearer with ‘Buy now’, it is very obvious that the user’s intention is to purchase. ‘Shop now’ could be mistaken for continuing to look at more shops, it is less specific regarding the action and more ambiguous.


Example: ‘Find a retailer’ vs ‘Where to Buy’ vs ‘Nearby Retailers’


Current CTA: ‘Find a retailer’. Concern that this may be mistaken for online retailers only.

Variation 1: ‘Where to buy’. The team felt this version was more direct and may imply less work for the visitor.

Variation 2: ‘Nearby retailer’. Related to a physical and geographical location and therefore may make it clearer that this indicates physical retail stores


4.1% more users clicked on ‘Nearby retailer’ compared to the two alternatives.


 The button more clearly indicates physical shops where the user can buy the product as it relates to a geographical location, while the others two options could be mistaken as solely relating to online stores.


How 2 Words Lifted Insound’s Checkout Funnel Conversion to 54%

Following the launch of a redesign, Insound found that conversion was underperforming. It was believed that this was due to the length of the checkout process and the vague wording throughout.


Current CTA: ‘Continue’. Logical description of the button, continues to the next step.

Variation 1: ‘Review order’. Describes what’s going on and reassures that the process is not completed yet, i.e. there’s still time to change your mind.

Variation 2: ‘Submit’. Based on the one-step check out process.

Variation 3: ‘Almost done’. Informs that the process is almost complete.


insound conversion


‘Review order’ was the winner with a 39.4% click rate.


It is explanatory and reassuring at the same time, clearly indicating to the user that they still have time to back out should they need to but also allows them to see an overview of their order and associated information to double check everything before proceeding.

As can be seen, small adjustments to your CTA copy can make a big difference conversion. It’s always worth testing alternatives to see which performs better.

Source of examples: Optimizely

Keep It Usable app featured in the papers

If you were sitting down with your coffee on Saturday morning, reading the papers, you may have spotted Keep It Usable. We were featured in an article about a fantastic health app called Clintouch, which has been developed by Manchester University. We are proud to have worked on the design of the user interfaces for this now award-winning app that has subsequently made an appearance at 10 Downing Street to inform the future of how digital technology can improve the nations health.

Clintouch is one of the first apps being prescribed by doctors to patients to aid early intervention. Currently prescribed to patients with psychosis, the app could ultimately save the NHS millions by enabling earlier treatment before a patient becomes seriously ill.

This groundbreaking app has subsequently gone on to win an innovation award and is currently being trialled in NHS trusts in the UK.

Independent research that we conducted with users of health and wellbeing apps showed that there is a great deal of distrust and disengagement with health apps (caused by the quality of apps in the marketplace at the moment). Users want trustworthy apps that are easy to use and will do what they claim to do. Clintouch is hopefully the first of many apps that bridge the gap between patient and doctor and make a real difference to both the NHS an people’s lives.

There is a great deal of scope for health and wellbeing apps to improve our lives, cut NHS costs and improve the relationships we have with our doctors. However, it is crucial that these apps are designed by professionals in collaboration with health experts so they actually work and have a high level of efficacy, otherwise they just join the thousands of health apps already in the app store that are downloaded and never used.

The privacy paradox and how you can use it to increase conversion

The privacy paradox and how you can use it to increase conversionIn the era of Web 2.0, privacy is not only one of the liveliest issues in the debate about consumers behaviour and individual rights, but also one of the most difficult one to solve. Companies want more customer data, customers say they dislike this, yet they freely provide personal data.

Nowadays, the border between private and public is becoming more and more blurred; people are used to sharing their pictures, videos, preferences, personal information, and everyday a huge amount of online data is collected, however, they still appear to be seriously concerned about their privacy and claim it to be an important factor in their online decision-making process. To make things even more complicated, concern about privacy doesn’t in fact match actual online behaviour.

The Privacy Paradox

The privacy paradox is the discrepancy between an individuals’ intentions to protect their privacy and how they actually behave in the online marketplace, it’s the relationship between individuals’ intentions to disclose personal information and their actual personal information disclosure behaviours, which are often very different.

According to several privacy-related studies, the online audience can be divided into three big categories:

1. Privacy fundamentalists: very privacy-oriented and concerned
2. Privacy unconcerned: not at all privacy-oriented
3. Privacy pragmatists: in-between the other two categories

In general, consumers appear to be much more sensitive about the use of their medical, financial, and family information than they are about their product, brand consumption or their media usage behaviour. Why is this? Because things like their medical, financial and family information, when disclosed, can cause potential embarrassment and security problems. People also fear loss of control of this type of information.

Conceptual Model of Disclosure

The conceptual model of disclosure is a theory that states the consumer’s behaviour is influenced by both their perceived risk of disclosing their information and the trust they have with the company.

Conceptual Model of Disclosure

Privacy Paradox Model

In reality, the consumer’s actual behaviour is more highly influenced by trust. This is why people disclose information even when they say they’re really concerned about their privacy.

Privacy Paradox Model

Figure 1 Norberg P., Horne D., and Horne D. 2007 The Privacy Paradox: Personal Information Disclosure Intentions versus Behaviors.

One of the problems is that people have a tendency to over-report their understanding of privacy issues and their willingness to act in order to protect them. There’s a disjoint between users attitudes and opinions and their actual behaviours and experiences online.

This was tested in an “e-commerce experiment” to understand how privacy indicators affect the users decision-making process.

Ecommerce test

Above: Screenshot from e-commerce experiment (Jensen C., Potts C., Jensen C. 2005 Privacy practices of Internet users: Self-report versus observed behavior).

They observed that consumers tend to disclose personal information more easily than they claim to do. What the research highlights is that users self-reported experiences don’t match with their actual online behaviour. What clearly emerged is the importance of “trust-marks” in the interaction between users and digital interfaces.
Trust-marks → factors which may not say anything about the site’s privacy practices, but which are interpreted as such by users.

Users appear to live a “double bind” relationship in dealing with privacy issues on digital interfaces, and this is affecting their decision-making process in purchasing online. The Double Bind theory (Bateson G. 1950) in psychology is defined as a conflicting communication dilemma in which the message doesn’t match with the observed behavior; that causes an emotionally distorted and frustrated reaction in the individual.

Tips to improve trust, acquire more data and lessen abandonment

Here follows some tips that could help interfaces designers in dealing with the paradox, avoiding frustration and consequent abandon in purchasing online.

Visible link to a privacy policy

It has a major effect on purchasing behavior, even though, according to the study, only a quarter of the policies were consulted. In most cases, users had more confidence in a site simply because it had a policy (the impact a policy has is of course more powerful when it is read, but it is not negligible when it is not). Policies are important, not just because of what they say, but because they are there.

Netflights Privacy Policy
• Credit card icons

Even if it does not in fact imply any promise of fraud prevention or privacy protection, consumers find these icons reassuring.

Netflights Credit Card Icons
• Show a contact phone number

Preference for phone information over mailing or email information. Consumers feel reassured to see a phone number to contact the company if any problems occur during the transaction.

Netflights Contact Info
• Development of policy simplifications and standardised indicators

Implement standardized, simple visual indicators for the risks users are exposed to.

It is interesting to note the strong effect policies have despite the fact that users rarely read them. Just having a link to a policy makes a difference. This indicates that in many cases it is the presence of a policy that has a positive effect on users, not its content. Users are looking for “trustworthiness”, not based only on fact but rather on appearance and first impression.

Call to Action Buttons: 5 Psychology tips to increase conversion 


What are call to action buttons?

When designing an interface, one of the main goals of the designer, is to ensure that the end user is able to clearly understand what they should do next and where each click will lead them. Call to action buttons are essential to this dynamic, as these buttons are what guide the user through the interface.

The very name of the button, call to action, states there is a necessity for the person engaging with the interface to be stimulated to perform a task. In this case, the designer wants the user to press a button: to make it more enticing so that more visitors will convert. Therefore, your call-to-action buttons should be usable, but they also need to be actively persuasive to encourage more clicks and higher conversion.

Do they really make a difference?

Call to action buttons are the biggest A/B tests run by businesses (they make up around 30% of all tests). The difference between a poor and a great CTA can be anything from a few percent to a few hundred percent and more!

The internet is full of examples of how successful a good CTA can be. Take a look at Which Test Won for some great examples that you can interact with and test your own predictions of which CTA converted better.

So, let’s take a quick look at how we can make these buttons more enticing.

Psychology tips to increase conversion

1 Colour psychology

Colour plays a very important role in determining the pull of your button. The colour you choose can determine who clicks, how many times they click, and how quickly they click.


For example:

– Females tend to prefer the colours purple, green and blue, while men tend to prefer blue green and black

– Blue is a colour considered to build trust while yellow tends to signify a warning.

These signifiers and others should be taken into account when designing CTA buttons to ensure the right audience is drawn to ‘click’. Not only is it important to choose the right colour, but to ensure that the entire page or interface is aesthetically pleasing. Consider the background colour of your template to ensure colours don’t clash and your button isn’t lost in the background.

2 Placement psychology 

You want your call to action button to stand out on the page, otherwise it will get lost amongst other elements and suffer from less clicks. If your button has an important message, ensure that it is positioned where it will stand out.

You also want your users to understand what happens when they click on your button. It can be a good idea to introduce your button with accompanying short text to support why the user should click it, what are the benefits for them?



3 Visual psychology

The shape and overall design of the button is where one can get creative, but it is good to keep in mind particular ideas that could add to the ‘clickability’ of the button.

Take into consideration the following:

People like curves. It has been found that rounded corners draw attention to the inside of the button, whereas square edges draw attention away from the centre. Neuro-aesthetics researchers have found that people prefer rounded shapes and these shapes actually cause more activity in the visual cortex (Bar, M., & Neta, M. (2006). Humans prefer curved visual objects. Psychological Science, 17(8), 645-648).

Size = Importance. The size of the button should be determined by how important that particular action is to be carried out.


4 Wording psychology

The importance of the message plays a huge part in determining the design of the button. In an increasingly fast paced society, the concept of reading long text becomes less and less appealing. As a result, one wants to ensure that the call to action button is as specific as possible, and gets the message across in the shortest amount of time.

How do we do that?

Be specific. Consider what you want the user to do and use a command to describe the button. For example, buy, watch, download etc. However, take note that some of the bigger conversions come from using less generic and more specific phrases, such as the one below.


image source

Keep it simple. Professionalism doesn’t necessarily mean big words and difficult commands. Simple commands make it easy for the user to know what to do and what comes next and allows for a smooth transition through the interface.

Clarity. If necessary, include a simple message on the button to clarify any ambiguity that may be there from the command. Through simplicity is important, clarity is essential.

Speak the users language. The larger increases in conversion come from analyzing what your customers really need. In user research we recommend listening to the language they themselves use to explore their mental model and what resonates with them.

Free is one of the biggest persuaders to motivate action so if your service is free or has a free trial, make it obvious for the user to see.


5 Emotional psychology

It is important to keep in mind the emotions you want your end user to feel while scrolling through your interface. Whether it be a sense of urgency, pity or excitement, you want to give them a reason to click on your button. Think about what calls you to action and why. Why did you buy those shoes on the internet? Was it because they were on a one day sale, or because they were only available online? Our minds are triggered into action by emotions as well as a perceived sense of need to perform an action. With your button, you have the opportunity to develop a sense of need or create a sense of urgency or desire to take your users to the next step.


As humans, we’re pre-programmed to respond to images. They draw us in emotionally. The images you use alongside your CTA can play a huge role in creating the right emotion to engage users and increase uplifts.


Example: Basecamp

Basecamp use several techniques to increase the psychological pull of their CTA.


Concise explanation with benefits, written in the user’s language (note the informality which makes for a friendly tone of voice), ‘Basecamp helps you wrangle people with different roles, responsibilities and objectives toward a common goal: Finishing a project together’.

– Social Proof to further persuade visitors to sign up. Social proof is evidence of other people using the service, in this case, the ‘4,869 companies signed up to use Basecamp just last week’.

Free. Yes they utilise the power of the word ‘free’ within their CTA.

Specific wording. Note how they could have just used generic ‘Sign up’ wording but they chose to go with a much more personal feel ‘Use Basecamp free for 2 months – it’s on us’. Did you spot the reciprocity there too? The way they bring out the ‘it’s on us’ makes it feel like they’re doing you a favour, psychologically when someone does something for you, you’re much more likely to reciprocate.


The exciting part!

Now that we’ve taken you through a number of techniques and examples to show how you can increase your conversion using effective CTAs, there’s just one thing left for you to do, and that’s to try a few of these on your own designs.

We’d love to hear how you get on and if you need any advice or have any questions, we’re always happy to help.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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