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There are many things that influence the user’s decision making process. Here are seven major elements that I’ve come across in my research lately that can be very useful to enhancing user experience, increasing conversions, and helping the user make a more informed decision.
People like to return favors. Providing free samples, downloads, useful information or free trials is a courtesy that can often compel users to become a committed buyer later on.
People like to follow through and act on the things they say. This in particular is social media oriented because social media is a communication tool that allows users to make a commitment to a brand by liking, commenting on, reposting or tweeting a company, organization, product, or service. This is a minor commitment that often will encourage loyalty in the future.
Not to say that users do not all have unique identities, but social conformity surely plays a part in decision making. If there is a system on your site that shows how many others are purchasing, downloading, or interested in an item this will increase the popularity of the item due to social trend. Often if users don’t have much else to base their decisions on, they will choose to go with what’s popular.
This is the emphasis on promoting credibility via references or the perception of authority. People are much more likely to make decisions based on information that is presented to them from a source that appears to be legitimate. Citing references and accreditations contributes to perception of credibility.
If an item is presented to a user as being of limited availability, the desire for this object increases since it is seen as being exclusive or highly desired. Product inventory tracking with low inventory alerts can be useful in this way. Also, a lot of timed or limited availability discount offer sites are popping up that use this to promote sales.
Framing allows users to assess the value of something based on comparison. Benchmarks and pricing reference points are often needed for a user to know whether something is a good value or not. One example of this can be a site that allows users to make a charitable donation. Offering preset donation amounts can enable users to get a concept of what an ideal or relevant donation amount would be.
Site users will be drawn to what is relevant or important to them at a specific point in time. A good example of this is to provide space for related products in a shopping cart right before the checkout process, perhaps after an item is added to the cart. This is useful to remind users that other products may be relevant to their purchase (like AA batteries for a universal remote) and they can then quickly add them to their order through the cart interface. Another example would be to strategically present discounts or up-sell offers at relevant times to encourage user engagement.