4 Psychological Web Design Principles to Boost Conversions

If you’re designing an ecommerce website, web design conversions are probably high on your list of priorities. You need a website that features more than just a pretty face.

There should be underlying messages and details that will encourage consumers to subscribe, make a purchase, or choose to perform some other desirable action on the site. This may entail the use of psychological principles of conversion that get woven into your design.

Consumer responses are inexplicably linked to their psychological background.

No matter how much technology advances, the triggers behind human behavior remain the same. With the right planning, you can use psychology to increase conversions and improve your bottom line.” In other words, most responses and actions of customers are fed by their subconscious mind.

Declares an infographic from the marketing firm Pardot.

A sharp web designer who understands such interactions can use this to his or her advantage. As you labor on fashioning a site that you hope will lead to a higher conversion rate, here are some concepts to apply to your website.

How Symmetry Derives Action

The human brain is readily attracted to symmetrical patterns. We look for balance and order in many of our interactions, and that includes the websites that appeal to us.

Symmetry is best established by simplification. The manufacturers of the video game The Sims decided to put this concept into practice with their website.

They simplified the layout and created a more symmetrical website template for their site, with a single call to action and fewer distractions to pull attention away from that. After testing six different variations of the simpler, more orderly design, the firm reported an increase in conversions of 128 percent.

The Emotional Impact of Past Experiences

Events that occurred in the past will inevitably influence our future interests as well as our fears. When we interact with new products and make purchasing decisions, we can’t help but respond under the influence of what we’ve experienced with similar objects and brands in the past.

Smart application of this psychological fact can be a little tricky, though, since there’s no way to know the precise background of every potential customer. But you can learn more through customer personas as well as via user testing.

User testing is so helpful, a rocket scientist who currently specializes in improving web conversions. “After working on a site for even just a few days you can lose a fresh perspective. We call it the ‘house visitor’ effect. When you have a visitor in your house, the minute they walk in the door you start noticing things that you didn’t notice before, like the pile of books in the corner or a mark on the wall. You start seeing everything through the visitor’s eyes.

Karl Blanks

Page Load Time’s Effect on Conversions

The psychological principle at work here is patience. When they visit websites, people are inherently impatient. In fact, if your website takes longer than three seconds to load, 40 percent of people will abandon the page.

Every additional second decreases conversion rates by about seven percent.

The need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner. It’s why you have people at Disney World paying for a pass so they don’t have to wait in line. You have people who don’t mind paying for things like same-day delivery.

Narayan Janakiraman, a University of Texas assistant marketing professor.

Many consumers are certain they know what they want right away. Give it to them as swiftly as possible, and don’t make them wait due to a slow-loading page or a confusing site layout.

Visual Prominence in Connection with Action

Similar to the way our brains crave order and simplicity, they’re drawn to differences. When you’re looking at a field that’s full of white sheep, your eye is immediately drawn to the lone black sheep in the mix.

Your calls to action have to attract the eye. They must stand out and encourage action. Utilizing the negative space around a call to action can boost the effect.

Think about the Google homepage and how all the white space around it compels your attention to focus on the colorful corporate logo template.

The more space you place a call to action the more attention you draw to it. Clutter up your call to action with surrounding content and you will lose it in the noise of the page.... Color is an effective way of drawing attention to elements. This is especially true if the rest of the site has a limited palette.

Paul Boag of BoagWorld.com.

Users can tell - at least, they’ll sense subconsciously - when you haven’t considered the psychological impact of your web design. Getting people to click, subscribe, buy, or perform any other action you seek depends significantly on the way their minds perceive the design.

A greater focus on this facet of online marketing can make a huge difference in the success of your site.

How Do Business Owners and Marketers Increase Conversion?

Let's have a look at some case studies of reall businesses who have implemented bunch of psychological tricks that resulted in conversion boost. Check them out:

The tricks you use depend on what you're trying to do. I've found that when running a promotion for quick sales, the fear of missing out and loss aversion principles are powerful persuasion factors. So doing things like setting a deadline for someone to purchase, and adding a countdown timer before ending the promotion.

On the other hand, for longer sales processes or branding, displaying experience and social proof are powerful motivators. On my personal website, I have logos of Forbes and TNW, where I've been published, as well as companies I've worked with previously, and that lends authority to when companies hire me as a consultant.

Sid, marketing consultant and previously VP of Growth at Thinkific


We swapped all of the standard product imagery on one of our highest traffic pages with images of the product actually being used, and noticed a considerable improvement in conversion rate (4%). This simple change equated to a considerable revenue improvement over the course of the year. We've since tried to roll this out on as many pages on our site as we can, and despite the costs associated with the photography, it's well worth it.

Max Robinson, FishTankBank


During the last 9 years we have tested more than 150 different Landing Page's for our services but it was not until we began to implement psychological aspects that our conversions began to improve significantly.

The strategy that generated the most growth (an AMAZING 34.1% improvement!) was when we used scarcity. This we did first, showing how other customers continue to buy the product and decreasing the amount that remains in stock in real time.

On the other hand, we also implemented it adding a timer that started in 5 minutes and was decreasing until the promotion was finished.

Being able to implement psychological aspects to improve your conversions is key and depending on your product or service there are some that work better than others, that's why I recommend you start right now and iterate while testing one by one.

Eng. Rennella, Cristian,
VP Marketing & CoFounder


We teach people to ask questions based on a set of a conversational area. These areas of represented in a mnemonic device we call "The Stack" . The stack starts out with questions that are less personal or emotionally laden and then increases these areas as the conversation continues. We even built in a few areas that allow for a "break".

Dave Popple PhD, President Psynet Group


As an ecommerce brand, we realized that site speed is huge! When I think about conversions, I’m thinking about the best ways to make a user click on something through a call to action. The truth of the matter is that faster websites will always win. The faster your site is, the more likely it is that users will convert. There was actually a study done about this by Aberdeen Group that showed a one second delay in load time can result in 11% less page views, a 16% drop off in satisfaction, and a 7% decrease in conversions. As you can see, site speed matters.

In order to ensure our mobile site loads quickly, we use a Shopify app called Crush.pics. This ensures that all our images are optimized for site speed while still retaining image quality. We also took steps to minify all our liquid code and prioritized script load order while trimming down the total number of scripts being called. Removing unnecessary assets on some pages while reducing images assets on others helped reduce site load time as well.

Darren Schreher, Digital Manager


Conversion rate optimization can often be achieved through simple changes on a website.

For example, we had an ecommerce client that changed a gray button from "add to cart," to a red "buy now" button. This simple change increased items added to the cart by 14% and overall sales by 7%. Simply by using colors and telling the customer what to do. The key takeaway is to give the customer a clear direction, direct them to the action you want them to take.

Brad M. Shaw, President and CEO Dallas Web Design Inc.


Read Also

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Alex Bulat

Writing a blog post or building a micro niche WordPress website is something Alex can do bare-handed. You're welcome to contact him via Telegram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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