The 10 Skills Needed to Build an Effective Website

By Doug Burton

Consumer PsychologySkill #2 – Consumer Psychology

In his best selling book, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio observed:

“We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.”

In other words, our emotional responses to stimuli usually precede the cognitive process or rationalization of our decisions. This is why the role that emotions play in the consumer decision-making process should never be underestimated. There are countless on-page factors that impact how your website’s visitors feel about your brand, and ultimately, whether or not they buy from you. These can include your use of colors, shapes, fonts, images, and white space (the amount of negative space on your pages). Sometimes simply changing the color of a button can increase sales exponentially.

Heat map

Heat map analysis of a landing page

Look for a consumer behavior expert who can integrate an understanding of consumer psychology with the latest findings in brain science. This person should also be able to leverage data from Google Analytics and tools such as heatmapping (data visualization of user behaviors such as clicks, taps, mouse movements on a website/app) to continually improve your site’s performance.

Also ask about leveraging methods such as “Laddering” (understanding the four levels to the features-benefits-emotions chain) and The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation technique (ZMET®). These are powerful tools that can yield useful insights into what your target customer believes and values. By accurately appealing to the core emotions that drive your customer’s actions, your marketing message can truly resonate.