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Brain science in web design

Some web design principals are based on actual brain science.

Here are some tips to help you optimize your design according to scientific studies!

1. List Order and “Serial Position Effect”. When ordering your navigation (or any lists within your copy), put the important stuff at the beginning and end. The readers’ attention and retention are lowest in the middle. As visitors scan the page, the first and the last items are most likely to stay in short-term memory.

Also, don’t include too many items. Short term memory can only hold around seven items. If your navigation includes more than seven links, break it up into smaller groups.

2. Marketing Copy and “Loss Aversion”. Humans are not efficient cost/benefit calculators. We tend to overvalue losses and undervalue gains. In other words, losses are more painful than gains are pleasurable. This aversion to losses can be useful to web designers and copywriters.

Here are some tips for writing copy with loss aversion in mind:

  • Emphasize the costs of not using your product or service.

  • Group costs together, list benefits separately.

  • Emphasize immediate gains.

  • Create urgency with limited time offers. If the product is scarce, say so.

3. Social Proof and Supportive Content: Herd Behavior. People tend to do what other people are doing. So giving evidence that others have selected you makes choosing your company seem like a good choice. The goal is to make any decision other than using your company seem outside the norm.

People tend to do what other people are doing.

Add supportive messages:

  • Testimonials from clients or reviews from customers.

  • Social media widgets showing the size of your following.

  • Endorsements from relevant influencers.

  • “As seen in…” logos of media where your company has been mentioned.

  • Trust seals, including association memberships, security certificates, and awards.

4. Word Choice and Readability. Labels in navigation and copy in pages must be easy for visitors to understand. Use the common words that visitors expect. Avoid long sentences. Don’t use jargon. Long sentences and fancy words force the temporal lobe to work harder. Not good.

Copy that works well for “low literacy” users works well for everyone. It’s not about dumbing it down; it’s about using simple language that everyone can understand. Even PhDs prefer to read at an 8th grade level.

When ordering your navigation (or any lists within your copy), put the important stuff at the beginning and end.

5. Colors and “Von Restorff Effect”. In the 1930’s, German scientist Hedwig von Restorff discovered that when given a list of ten items, people remember items if they are a color different from the others. This is because the occipital lobe is sensitive to visual differences, or “pattern interrupters.”

Pick an “action color” for all of your links, buttons, and rollover effects. Make it a color that’s distinct from the brand colors used throughout the design (these are the “passive colors”). Use the action color nowhere else but in the clickable items.

6. Headlines: Emotion and Virality. According to eye tracking studies, headlines aren’t just the first thing seen on a page, they’re looked at more than anything else. And not all headlines get shared equally.

Headlines and images can quickly spark emotions. Research shows that emotional headlines get shared more. A lot more. The three types of emotions that get shared the most: anxiety, anger, and inspiration.

Use these tips to make your design effective and to increase your audience engagement! Remember that for Wix sites there is a great way to solve any designing problem with Impressive Plugins.


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