Monday, 23 April 2012

Designing for the unconscious brain: it's about food, sex and danger

Eat, mate or get eaten
Behavioural psychologist Susan Weinschenk knows how to grab your attention, or should I say, she knows how to appeal to our so-called 'old brain' - the bit that developed way back when, and hasn't yet caught up with the 21st century.

Susan's workshop 'Designing for engagement: what makes people click?' starts off with a startling fact: 'There are 40 billion sensory inputs coming into our brain and we're only conscious of 40 of them.'

In other words, there's a whole lot of unconscious mental processing going on, done by the 'old brain'.

Food, sex or danger

Our 'old brain' is sizing up every new situation, says Susan: Is this food? Is this a potential mate? Or am I just about to get eaten myself?

Susan Weinschenk, author of Neuro Web Design
Susan, who has 30 years' experience as a behavioural psychologist, makes connections between behavioural science and how to design web content - to make people click.

Photos and videos

One of those connections is: we're hardwired to respond to human faces so it's good to have faces on your site.

And we respond best to those photos where the face is looking straight at us, with both eyes open.

Video is good too as the 'old brain' responds to movement. "If you're designing websites and you're not including video, I suggest that you do," recommends Susan.

Only 2 in stock

While shopping online, you've probably noticed that when there are only two items left in stock you're suddenly keen to purchase. You sense the danger. "The 'old brain' is afraid of losing out," says Susan.

And in fact, while I was waiting for the UKUPA workshop to begin, I was trying to book tickets for an event, spurred on by the fact that there were only a few tickets left.

Susan Weinschenk's principles of designing for engagement
If all this sounds a bit dumbed down, apologies - I didn't take enough notes.

It's all in the books though: 'Neuro Web Design: what makes them click' and '100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People'.

And in the meantime, here are Susan's 10 principles of designing for engagement.

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