In 2010 I discovered the book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? By behavioral psychologist Susan M. Weinschenk. I was intrigued by the idea of learning some psychology to provide better on-line experiences. I have to say the book was really disappointing, Dr. Susan Weinschenk gives cheap advices such as:
If you gift something on your web site people will feel obliged to give you something back
Use a picture of a hot girl to gain attention.
The other day I found a quite inspiring post on UXmatters.com titled Using Neuroscience to Inform Your UX Strategy and Design by Lori Kirkland. I was more than happy to change my mind on the use of neuroscience in web design! The article analizes some web sites and mobile apps using SCARF theory.
SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others is a paper by David Rock where social interactions are analyzed from a neuroscientific point of view. The author states that the human need for social interaction is as necessary as that for food and water. Starting from the need for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness the author provides some examples on how it is possible to minimize conflicts and improve cooperation in different environments such as work or school.
Going back to Neuroscience in web design, Lori Kirkland explains how Amazon emphasizes user sense of Status by providing personalized reccomandations on its home page. Customer reviews give a sense of Relatedness with other people. Fairness is conveyed by transparency in showing prices and the amount of saved money for each item.
I believe Certainty (that is the ability to predict the future) and Autonomy (sense of control over events) are fundamental when designing interfaces as well. Think about the bad feeling you have when clicking a link that triggers an unexpected reaction, as it happens with some intrusive banners. At the same time you have a sense of Autonomy whenever an interface allows you to easily accomplish all the tasks without need for manuals or support.
In conclusion Neuro Web Design book is a waste of money and time, I’d like to meet the 20 customers that gave 5 stars to the book on Amazon. On the other hand I’m glad to discover that neuroscience can inform user experience and web design. I hope to find more on this topic.