Persuasive Web: Where Psychology Meets Conversion

DAY 24: Applying Persuasion Principles –

Posted in Uncategorized by persuasiveweb on June 24, 2009


Over the past 23 days (whew, 6 days still to go in our 30 Days of Persuasion!), we’ve explored a ton of persuasion principles, discussed their application and potential on the Web, and tried our best to illustrate the techniques and why they work. Discussing each principle separately – in our opinion – is the most effective way to inform and educate readers of our little blog. However, in my final few posts this month, I’m going to pull together the various elements and examine some companies that are doing an admirable job of taking their sites to a holistic persuasive level of design (i.e., beyond just functional and usable, as discussed in yesterday’s post).

It’s hard to write a blog without loving blogs in general. I have my list of favourites and probably scan 200-300 posts per day. Of those I read about 10%. Sometimes I come across a reference to an older article or interview that piques my interest – which is likely a form of nostalgia – and the aging articles that are most interesting to me are related to Web site design and conversion. In this little gem from 2003, Christine Perfetti of User Interface Engineering interviews Andrew Chak about persuasive design. In the article, Andrew mentions that one of the most persuasive sites he’s seen is, so I decided to check it out and see for myself if Andrew’s praise was (and still is) deserved.

Upon arriving at the site, the first thing I noticed was how little has really changed over the past 6 years. While some may consider its design somewhat outdated, it’s hard to argue with success (10 years, 10 million bags sold). And there are a few other companies that have done well to slowly evolve their site designs… like Google, Craigslist, eBay,, Lands’ End, and The second thing I noticed was how right Andrew was to point out as a leader in persuasive design. Many of the elements of persuasion we’ve discussed here are being applied – year after year, visitor after visitor – to their home page, category page, search results, product page, cart, and others:









The visual and content designers at clearly understand how to deliver for customers as well as the business. The company is placing its biggest bets on the principles of scarcity (e.g., one-day sales) and social proof (e.g., user reviews, number of people currently browsing the site), but it is also adept at establishing trust and credibility on the very first visit. Remember, persuasion is not manipulation; it’s about engaging and guiding visitors to making confident purchase decisions – and it certainly looks as though approaches this effective style of selling with integrity and a sincere focus on the customer.



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