Neuro Web Design

What Makes Them Click?
Before Starting on Your Next Website, Put Your Customer on the Couch; A Little Psychology Can Lead to More Effective Web Sites.

Neuro Web Design presents examples of how an understanding of psychology can be used to design more effective web sites. It does this by first explaining a theory of how the human brain can be divided into three areas: conscious, unconscious and old brain, and how these three work together to make decisions. Following this chapter, Neuro Web Design presents a series of examples of how people think in different situations and how this knowledge can be applied to designing a website.

The first chapter covers how the brain can be divided into the conscious, unconscious and old brain and gives examples of how people use the different parts to make decisions. Many readers will have some knowledge of this idea, as well as many of the other ideas presented in this slim 140-odd page book, but what Weinschenk has done is brought a lot of material together. Hence, it’s not only a quick read but points out where readers can go for further information if they want to examine the case studies mentioned in each chapter. Some of the ideas explored include: feeling indebted, invoke scarcity, too many choices, building commitment, similarity, attractiveness, afraid to lose and telling stories. Each chapter discusses one topic, often with a study or experiment drawn from psychology and usually illustrated either through a web example or through an example text in the book itself.

This book isn’t about what colours to choose or the placement of elements- instead it’s about words and framing decisions; for instance, why it is better — from a selling point of view — to ask customers to subtract from a product rather than add? This book will tell you that, with case studies to back it up, making customers subtract features makes the full-featured model more attractive. Other examples like “invoke scarcity” to explain why saying a video was “banned by congress” makes the reader more interested in seeing the video. At least one other review pointed out that the book doesn’t cover much about the use of colour or position. I think this is probably because that kind of information is usually included in graphic design programs, this book is more about abstract ideas with concrete examples that leave the reader with things to think about rather than cases they can use right away.

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The layout of the book, with many photos and graphics, makes the book a quick read. For readers more interested in the psychology, the book has a full biography at the end listing articles cited. In a wayNeuro Web Design reminded me of an e-book I read a year or two back that had the idea of social sites like Digg.com being a game with rules that players (members) could learn and win at. The idea stuck with me, and I think it’s a fresh way of looking at a website, this book is that way too; outside of shopping carts, there’s not a lot of things that can put transferred straight into a website. Instead, it’s ideas that can be applied if you keep them in mind when designing your next website.