Category Archives: The Perfect Web Site

8 Psychological Triggers to Help You Sell More


Photo courtesy of Tim Sheerman-Chase.



Do you have a web page that does not sell no matter how many people visit it?

Are you frustrated with checking your traffic and sales stats every day and seeing nothing tangible happen?

If you relate to these problems, you  might have a sales copy problem on your hands.  Luckily, it’s not your fault though.  No one ever talks about what you should say on your web site.  No one ever talks about the psychology of what makes people take action and purchase your products and services.   Most likely, all you have been told is if you have a web site you will be connected to the world and the sales will start rolling in.  You have probably figured out by this point that it takes much more than just having a web site to be successful.

Long ago, the same thing was figured out in the world of advertising.  Just simply blasting your messages to the masses did not guarantee success.  Instead, a strategy had to be used to strike certain psychological triggers in peoples’ minds to make them want to buy.  As discovered by Leo Burnett, a revolutionary advertiser in the 1960’s, communicating certain key pieces of information in sales copy increases the likelihood of a sale by connecting with a prospect’s emotional and rational side.  By hitting all of these psychological points, the message you are trying to communicate will satisfy your prospect’s logical needs and irrational desires.  Even with all of the technological changes that have taken place since Leo Burnett’s time, the human mind has stayed the same so these very same psychological points can be used by as small business owner such as yourself to sell more products and services from your web site.

1. Identify Your Prospect’s Problem

Make sure you talk about the thing that is causing him or her pain!

2. Reveal Your Solution

Show how you will relieve the pain using your solution.

3. Define Your Target Audience

Describe aspects of your prospect’s life and experiences to let them know you truly understand what they are going through.

4. Go Into More Detail Using Steps 1, 2, and 3 As A Pattern

Dig deep and really explain the problem, the pain, and solution in more detail.

5. Bring Up The Biggest Objection

Price is usually not the biggest objection.  Typically, your prospect is more worried about value, quality, or level of service.

6. Provide Case Studies and Testimonials

These supplements provide social reinforcement that your solution will really solve the prospect’s problem.  Some of the best testimonials start off skeptical and finish with the customer being amazed or surprised by the quality of the product or service.  Testimonials that only highlight positive factors can come off as less believable.

7. Reverse The Risk

Let the prospect know they have nothing to lose by trying your company.  Let them know they have a money back guarantee,  financing options, a free, etc.

8. Say Why You Are Unique

Everyone is unique in some fashion.  Do not assume your prospect knows this.  Let them know and fulfill the last of the 8 psychological triggers!

Hitting on each of these eight psychological triggers can help you sell more through your web site.  Be sure to incorporate them into any audio or video you include on your web site as well to make sure you have the hardest hitting content possible.

One last tip for implementing these 8 psychological triggers into your sales copy is to make sure you have really defined your target audience in bullet 3.  If you find you are talking to a broad audience, it is easy to split that audience into smaller niches and build separate web pages that speak directly to each one with these psychological triggers.  As the saying goes, “if you market to everyone, you sell to no one”.

Great Aesthetics

How Great Aesthetics Make the Perfect Web Site

Photo courtesy of Paul Bica.

With the advent of do-it-yourself web site tools, there has been a rapid increase in the number of web sites live on the Internet today.  The trade off is that many of these web sites look hacked together and lack the level of quality a design professional would bring to the process.  Many companies justify this trade off due to the perceived lower cost of implementation.  Unfortunately, many businesses fail to realize that these hacked together web site solutions do great damage to themselves when it comes to a web visitor’s perception and willingness to trust the web site and the company as a whole.  By foregoing great aesthetics, these businesses miss out on an opportunity to build trust, convey ideas and emotions that connect with their audience, and make a bad first impression that has lasting impact.  Here’s how.

Great Aesthetics Build Trust

Lack of trust is one of the biggest barriers to eCommerce, online relationships, and interactions. Research has found many details about how aesthetics affect users.

“Singh and Dalaj (1999) found that the home page creates an initial impression not only of the company’s Web site but also the company itself [13]. First impressions are critical in establishing on-line relationships.”

“Karvoven (1999) found that design quality was among the features that enhanced the feeling of trust [13].”

Researchers have captured comments such as: “If a Web site strikes me as beautiful, I will gladly give away my credit card number”; and “If it looks pleasant, I just trust it.”  Karvoven’s international research (2000) with Swedish users found that users often made intuitive and on-the-spot decisions to trust a service provider when shopping online [12].

Karvonen and Parkkinen (2001) suggest that using high-quality, well-chosen photographs generate consumer confidence.

Lightner (2003) found that overuse of graphics damages perceptions of professionalism.

Wang & Emurian (2005) found that simplicity and consistency facilitate accessibility and navigation and these are characteristics of a trustworthy site.

Flanagin & Metzger (2007) found that offering information and news relevant to advertised products may enhance perceptions of credibility.

In today’s crowded market, it is more important than ever to establish that your web site is trustworthy and professional within the first few seconds someone sees your web site.  This important task is executed by making sure your site has great aesthetics.

Great Aesthetics Convey Ideas and Emotions

apple aesthetics

With trust as your foundation in great aesthetics, you can build emotions on top of it to sell your products and services more effectively.  Apple products are a great example of applying great aesthetics.  Their products are cool, young, and hip.  The Apple web site reflects this visually with its clean white layout with gray and black accents. St. Louis based videographer, Steve Behrends, has helped numerous corporations put on a more human friendly face by helping them create high quality videos. By incorporating great video into the website, you are better able to communicate complex emotional messages and build trust at a faster rate.

great aesthetics

Another interesting example is BP Oil who chooses green, white, and yellow which ties to pastoral, clean, sunny, and happy despite their “dirty” product.  Their use of aesthetics helps them portray that “clean” image they desire the public to see.

fortune 500 aesthetics

A common aeshtetic trend can be seen in Fortune 500 logos as well.  Most of them rely on a predominantly blue color scheme due to its calming and relaxing associations most Western audiences have with it.

Great Aesthetics Make a First Impression

A 2006 study conducted by Lindgaard, “found that Web site impressions were reliably formed within 50 seconds, were reliably consistent between people, and were held consistent over time.”

“…impressions were made in a short exposure time (less than a minute/page), it is likely that participants were making aesthetic judgments with minimal information and little conscious reflection or thought.”

Again, aesthetics can really make or break your site.  Make it a priority to have a great image so that you do not have problems with users trusting your web site and company when it comes to their decision to purchase from you.  At the same time, don’t be like a fancy restaurant that has no customer service.  You need to look great and follow through on your customer’s whole experience with your company.




Chen, Jennifer, “The Impact of Aeshtetics on Attitudes Towards Web Sites”, 2009 Jul, 

Furman, Susanne, Ph.D., “Building Trust”, 

Webcredible, Website aesthetics – what has it got to do with usability?

“What Works for Fortune 500: blue”, 2008 Aug 22,

Make Use of Your Visitor’s Attention

Countless small business web sites make the mistake of wasting their web site visitor’s attention.  After spending ad dollars to get a quality visitor, these web sites will display informative content that helps the reader, but fails to get the reader to take any sort of action that helps the company’s marketing and sales effort.

The solution to this problem is “action points”. An action point is simply the point where you ask your reader to do something on your web site. Some examples might be:

  • Buy Now
  • Subscribe Now
  • Sign Up
  • Join Now
  • Make a Comment
  • Share This
  • Tell a Friend
  • Give Us Your Opinion
  • Ask the Expert
  • Like This
  • Tweet This
  • Pin This

It is in your best interested to always make use of your user’s hard won attention.  If you cannot get a reader to purchase right this moment, ask the reader to subscribe to your e-mail or text list so that you can continuously stay in contact with them and not lose that opportunity after his or her first visit to your web site.

Another often forgotten area to ask user’s to take action is after they have taken your main action.  For example, after someone has purchased a product from an eCommerce web site a “thank you” page is typically displayed and that is it.  An easy to implement tactic to receive more value from your visitors is to ask the user to take another action on the “thank you” page such as filling out a survey, entering a contest, share your web site, etc.

Simple, Clear, and Unified Navigation – The Perfect Web Site

Photo courtesy of Tim Green.

Solid navigation is one of the foundations to creating an engaging, “perfect” web site.

There needs to be a set of master navigation buttons that appear in the same spot on every single web page contained within the web site.

This concept is best explained with a picture of what NOT to do.  In this first screen shot, you see the home page.

bad navigation

BAD Example of Navigation

After clicking the home page, the navigation changes completely and adds in new buttons that didn’t exist in the first place!  This is a great way to confuse a visitor to your web site.

Bad Navigation

Confusing Navigation Structure


This is one of the worst things you can do on a web site.  Time is precious when a person visits your web site and you do not want to waste it by making the person have to figure out how to find content.  If given the choice between form or function, side with function to make sure people can use your web site.  In this next screen shot you can see an example of Apple’s web site and how its navigation stays consistent across the top of the site no matter where you go.

Good Navigation

Good navigation is consistent through the web site.

Once you have consistent navigation, the next fundamental choice you need to make is how many choices will you give the person to navigate through.  Again, people have limited time and energy, so the more choices you give them the more confusing your site will be and the likelihood of that person taking an action that benefits you becomes lower.  In design school, the textbook answer was to limit navigation choices to 3 – 5 items.  This is illustrated beautifully by an equation called Hick’s Law, which you can learn more about at Smashing Magazine and Wikipedia.

T = b * log2 (n+1)

When you translate the math into plain English, it means that the more navigation choices you give a person, the logarithmically longer it will take for your user to take an action.  Basically, not only does it take longer to make a choice, but the effect on time compounds and becomes drastically longer each time you add a choice.  The more you can limit choices for your web site visitor the more likely you are to see a positive result.  Hick’s Law is the reason why simple advertisements and web sites that focus on one things have been so effective over the last 150 years.


mystery meat

Mystery Meat Navigation

Photo courtesy of x-ray delta one.

Imagine that you’re casually surfing the Internet one day. You come upon a web site that looks very polished. It’s so nice looking that it could probably be entered into an art show and win a number of awards. After a minute or so, you get bored and decide you want to see what the site offers. You start to look around for a button to click.

“Hmm… is that funny looking circle a button?”


“No. Let’s try this square with all those spiky things coming off of it.”

“Shoot, that doesn’t work either!”

“Oh, lets try this triangle. At least it changes to a word when I hover over it.”

What you just experienced is a term web designers call “mystery meat navigation”. It is a very bad thing to have on your site. Repeat this five times:

“I will never use mystery meat navigation no matter how cool, funny, witty, or mysterious I think I’m being by placing it there.”

Users will get confused. Users will get mad. Ultimately, users will leave your site. It takes enough effort to get a person to your web site in the first place, don’t give them a reason to leave so quickly. Instead, make your site as easy as possible to navigate. Make sure every navigation element is labeled clearly. When you link to something, it is also advisable to keep your links underlined. Savvy users may know what a link that highlights yellow or appears to have a dotted line under it means, but non-nerds will have no clue.

So, in closing, follow the K.I.S.S. principle of “Keep It Stupid Simple” and your site will be golden.