5 Principles of Persuasive Web Design

Cialdini breaks down influence into six persuasion principles. What’s the best way to persuade somebody when talking to them? You have to be confident, talk fast, and swear a little, among other things.

But what about persuading somebody without words—possible?

You bet.

Researchers installed a ‘fly’ onto urinals across different airports around the world:

Urinals with a fly.

The presence of a fly in a urinal literally changes human behavior. How come? Apparently men have an instinct to aim. When flies were introduced at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, spillage rates dropped 80% (don’t want to know how they measured it).

This is a clear case of getting people to do what you want without using words. Persuasive design in action.

Are people in Denmark selfish?

This graph represents the number of people registered organ donors, divided by countries:

Graph with registered percentage of organ donors per country.

So only 4.25% of Denmark, but over 99% of Austrians—what’s going on here? Are Austrians more selfless than the Danes? Well, no. What’s really happening is, when the people represented with the yellow bars go get their drivers license, there’s a check-box on the application that says “tick this box if you want to become an organ donor.” In the countries represented with the blue bars, the check-box says “tick this box if you do NOT want to become an organ donor.”

People go with whatever is the default. Defaults are design, too.

Do people change software settings?

Here’s another tidbit. Back in the day, UIE analyzed people’s Microsoft Office settings. Less than 5% of the users we surveyed had changed any settings at all. More than 95% had kept the settings in the exact configuration that the program installed in. Key lesson: people do not mess with defaults (unless they’re designers or developers)!

If you’d like more people to take action, make the preferred actions ‘default.’ Of course, this can be abused—like RyanAir makes buying travel insurance a default option, and Vistaprint used to enroll people in their “membership” by default. That’s not a way to make friends.

That being said, there are lots of opportunities with designing for default.

We spend very little time on deliberate thought

Have you read Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Malcolm Gladwell) or Thinking Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)? You should.

Both of them present a compelling case on how we, humans, mostly operate on auto-pilot. We rarely stop to analyze and think when making decisions. We make snap judgments instead, and we don’t even know why or how we’re making those decisions.

When we have to justify or provide a rationale for our auto-pilot decisions, we bullshit. The truth is: we don’t know.

Our decisions change depending on how we think

The outcome changes when we decide on auto-pilot versus when we put some deliberate thought into our actions.


In one study, students were asked to taste different jams and rank them in the order of preference. No explanation was asked—students were using their auto-pilot mode. The results were then compared with rankings by food experts from Consumer Reports. The ranking results were very similar.

Now, they changed it around—they had the students explain their choices and provide a rationale—which made them use slow, deliberate thinking. The results were vastly different.

It was not just about jam either—they did the same with ranking college courses. The results were very different depending on whether people had to justify their choices or not. That’s auto-pilot vs. deliberate thought in action; we make different decisions depending on how we think at a particular moment.

Know your target audience

The point of all of it is this: you need to know the rational thinking of your customer, and you need to understand their subconscious and emotional decision making processes. You figure this stuff out through talking to them, user surveys, usability tests, and split tests. This post of mine will give you some ideas on how to do it.

You really need to understand how your product or service fits into the lives of your customers. Conversions will be at their highest when we offer something they need and want in the way that resonates with them.

Everything that follows will assume you have a pretty good idea about your target group.

5 key principles of persuasive web design

Follow these five principles for improved conversions.

1. Clarity above all

Our brain is a questioning organ. When we see something for the very first time, we instantly ask: “What is it?” (Can I eat it? Or will it eat me?)

It’s no wonder that when people are asked what’s most important to them on a website, they say ‘finding stuff they’re interested in,’ according to a slightly dated but still relevant study from HubSpot:

HubSpot's statistic on the most important factors in the design of a website.

When a visitor comes to your site, he/she needs answers, and needs them quick. The first thing they read needs to provide answers to questions like:

  • What is this site?
  • What can I do here? Is it what I’m looking for?
  • Why should I do it? How is it useful to me?

Learn to craft a compelling value proposition. Your value proposition needs to answer this: why should I buy from you and not the competition?

It’s not just your home page that needs to be clear—all of it needs to be. Product pages, about pages, and so on.

Clarity is by far the most important thing for every page on your site—is it clear and understandable? A previous version of Square’s homepage is as clear as it gets:

Square homepage.

What is it: “Start accepting credit card today” + a clear, relevant image.
What can I do here: I can get a card reader.
Why should I do it: it’s free and just 2.75% per swipe.

My favorite bad example (can you tell what they’re selling?):

Our Point of Sale Systems Integrate Hardware, Software and Internet Social Media Marketing Into One Giant Revenue Super System.

Another example:

Ditto homepage.

The good: they use visuals to communicate what they’re about. Human brain processes visuals 50 times faster than text. It’s a good idea to show what you’re selling.

The bad: “the easiest way to find…” People do not believe superlatives.

Be specific, don’t use superlatives

For some reason it’s tempting to start throwing around words like “best,” “easiest,” “fastest,” and so on. If it’s true, provide ample evidence (NY Times said so, this scientific study confirms it, etc.). If it’s your opinion—don’t say it.

Most of us see something like this every day:

Best pizza in town window.

“Best pizza in town.” Does anyone buy it? Nope. What about the line underneath: “home made pasta.” Do we believe it? Sure do! Why? Because it’s specific and contains no superlatives.

So instead of throwing around a claim like “best,” they could say “we deliver your pizza in 20 minutes” and everyone would believe it. Makes a good value proposition if they’re in the business of delivering pizzas.

2. Visual appeal

Once people understand that they’re in the right place and what we offer is interesting, it’s our job to draw them further in and push them down the sales funnel.

First impressions matter

As I said earlier, people make snap judgments. It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not—whether they’ll stay or leave.

British researchers analyzed how different design and information content factors influence trust of online health sites. The study showed clearly that the look and feel of the website is the main driver of first impressions.

Of all the feedback the test participants gave, 94% was about design (complex, busy layout, lack of navigation aids, ignoring web design especially use of color, pop up adverts, slow introductions to site, small print, too much text, corporate look and feel, poor search facilities).

Only 6% of the feedback was about the actual content. Visual appeal and website navigation appeared, by far, to be the biggest influence on people’s first impressions of the site.

First impressions are important for these three reasons:

This is the new Tesla Model S:

New Tesla Model S.

Most people haven’t seen it, but once they do, they conclude “it’s a good car,” solely based on its looks.

Same happens with your website. If it provides a good first impression, your job will become much easier. A negative first impression will be a drag and affect the whole perception about your products and services. If it looks like crap, must be crap!

What makes a web design good?

I like blue, you like green. So what makes a design good?

Google did the heavy lifting for us and determined that there are two key factors to “what makes people like a website.” The key findings from their study were that websites with low visual complexity (the simpler, the better) and high ‘prototypicality’ (how representative a design looks for a certain category of websites) were perceived as highly appealing.

Make your web design simple and familiar (follow conventions—e.g., people have a fixed idea of what an ecommerce site should be like). If you go for innovative, unconventional layouts, people are less likely to like them.

Here’s an “innovative” design I came across a while ago. You need to hover over a number to see what menu item it is. How stupid is this?

Convert Code poor user experience example.

Since it’s not “prototypical,” most people are not going to like it.

Here’s a site in Dutch. Even though you probably don’t understand anything on the site, you will find it appealing because it meets your expectations. You’ve seen many sites with a similar layout before.

Knab.nl homepage

Here’s a website with complicated, busy layout. Most people won’t find this attractive:

Example of a busy, cluttered homepage layout.

Here’s the opposite. A site with a simple layout:

Example of a simple website layout.

Most will find it appealing.

3. Strong visual hierarchy

Squeaky wheels get the grease and prominent visuals get the attention. Visual hierarchy is one of the most important principles behind effective web design. It’s the order in which the human eye perceives what it sees.

Here’s an exercise. Please rank the circles in the order of importance:

A graph to rank the circles by importance.

Without knowing anything about these circles, you were easily able to rank them. That’s visual hierarchy.

Certain parts of your website are more important than others (forms, calls to action, value proposition, etc.), and you want those to get more attention than the less important parts. If your website menu has 10 items, are all of them equally important? Where do you want the user to click? Make important links more prominent.

Hierarchy does not only come from size. Amazon makes the ‘Add to cart’ button more prominent by using color:

Amazon varies button importance by color and size.

Start with the business objective

You should rank elements on your website based on your business objective. If you don’t have a specific goal, you can’t know what to prioritize.

Here’s an example, it’s a screenshot I took of the Williams Sonoma website. They want to sell outdoor cookware.

The biggest eye catcher is the huge piece of meat (make me want it), followed by the headline (say what it is), and the call to action button (get it!). Fourth place goes to a paragraph of text under the headline, fifth is the free shipping banner, and the top navigation is last. This is visual hierarchy well done.

William Sonoma homepage.

Here’s another exercise. Surf the web and consciously rank the elements in the visual hierarchy. Then go look at your own site. Is there something important (key information points that visitors are likely seeking) that isn’t high enough in the hierarchy? Change that.

It’s not about color

You see a lot of crap being floated around on the internet about which color converts the best. “Go with the big orange button,” some fools say. “Red is the best,” claim others.

This is the most widely spread color A/B test online:

Their result was that the red button outperformed the green button by 21%.

What most people miss here is that it wasn’t about the color red—it was about standing out from the noise. As the dominant color on the site was green, red button got a higher place in the visual hierarchy. If your site is red or orange, you need to use a different color to make your calls to action stand out.

White space helps you emphasize what matters

The more space that is left unused, the more attention is driven to stuff that’s on the page.

Here, they want to sell you a bed. What gets your attention? The bed! It’s by far the most prominent thing on the page.

Made product page.

While it seems obvious, it’s not. Most ecommerce product pages are very different from this. They have much smaller images, more stuff next to the image, a menu, and so on.

People buy stuff based on what it looks like (don’t forget that), so emphasize product photos and relegate everything else in the visual hierarchy.

4. Conserve attention at all costs

Once people know that your website has something they’re interested in, the visual design of the site draws them in and through strong visual hierarchy they focus on what matters. It’s important to conserve the attention we got at all costs.

It starts with where you place stuff. Most of the viewing time is spent above the fold (and “the fold” gets lower and lower as screen sizes and resolutions increase) and on the left side of the screen (69% for people who start reading from left side of the screen).

Getting attention

Neuroscience research tells us that few things capture attention like larger than life images. The important thing is that you keep the images relevant to what you’re selling:

Airbnb homepage.

Someone I know once commented “I regularly go to Airbnb to look at the photos and dream of traveling.” Goal achieved!

Another great way is using photos of people, especially the ones that look straight at us. We always look people in the eye, it’s a surefire attention-getter.

Highrise former homepage.

Third good thing to use is contrast. Before & after. Then and now. Our minds are designed to spot the differences. In the primal age we constantly needed to scan the horizons to spot if anything has changed—is there a predator lurking in the shadows, an enemy approaching, or someone we can eat?

Before and after image example.

While it clearly works for dental work, hair cuts, makeup transformation, and fitness stuff, you can use this in almost every business. Show the value your business adds through contrast. Works great for attention.

Another guaranteed way is using surprise. When we spot something we didn’t expect, we pay attention. Like here: “what’s with the weird guy?” Of course, you need to figure out how the unexpected fits with your brand.

Surprising homepage example.

It’s not just about images, but also copy. Unexpected copy makes you read closer. Let’s say you’re looking for a copywriting course. You narrow it down to these two choices. Now which of these would make you pay attention and read closer?

Example of unexpected copy that makes you read closer.

The one on the right is what you’d expect. The one on the left—not so much.

Conserving attention

Getting attention is not that difficult, sustaining it is.

What are the two easiest ways to kill attention?

#1: A wall of text. See this if you don’t know what it looks like.

#2: Irrelevant, ego-centric jargon. Like this:

Homepage example with jargon and stock imagery.
  • “Welcome to our website.” Complete waste of space that doesn’t resonate with anyone. Everyone is welcome on every public website on the internet. 
  • “Who We Are.” Who cares! People care about themselves and their problems. Not you.
  • “Our Philosophy.” Seriously? No one gives a damn!
  • Cheesy stock photos. So fake I want to flee instantly.

Although this homepage is no longer findable on the internet, instead of this crap, always be user-centric. WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) is a great principle to keep in mind at all times.

Your first order of business is to create relevant, interesting content. Then you have to present it well. Which of these two versions is more interesting to read?

GiftRocket page examples.

Clearly, the one on the right! Stylize the text, add eye paths, use visuals, break the text apart, avoid patterns.

Human eye is constantly trying to recognize patterns. Once it identifies one, it will ignore it. This is why it’s critical to spice up any layout for improved attention.

Design for novelty

As I’ve written in several posts before—in order to make a lot of copy easy to digest and read, you need to design for reading. You need to provide novelty in every screen.

This means you have to constantly change the layout around to keep it interesting. Sameness equals boring and drives people away. There are lots of psychological phenomena at play that I’ve written about here.

  • Neuroscientists say novelty promotes information transmission.
  • Our minds seem to gravitate toward novelty. Not only does a novel experience seem to capture our attention, it appears to be an essential need of the mind.

Our brain pays close attention to patterns, and quickly learns to ignore anything that is routine, repetitive, predictable, or just plain boring. This makes room for paying attention to anything that’s different. So novelty is what gets people to pay attention.

Ever wondered why so many sites constantly alternate the position of text paragraphs (text on the left, then text on the right, text on the left and so on)? Like here:

iPhone product page.

It’s for the very same reason: novelty. It boosts the number of people reading the content. Subheadings and white space help to achieve the same goal.

This is what Jerry Seinfeld had to say about attention:

Jerry Seinfeld quote.

Anyone who’s followed Lost, Dexter, Game of Thrones, or other captivating TV shows knows what Jerry means. Now let’s be honest, your website is no Dexter. But, you always can improve the attention paid to your site. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s possible to sustain attention for a long time.

Help people choose something

Once you get users to browse your products, you need to help them choose something. Choosing is hard work. Too much choice paralyzes. We’ve all been there:

Wine aisle.

First step is helping people narrow down the selection. You do this by employing filters. The role of the filter is to make finding most suitable products easy.

Wine Library‘s filters do a good job:

Wine Library product filters.

All of the filters don’t fit on this screenshot, there are more, such as country, year, region, varietals, and more.

If we can’t limit the choice, we need to make it easier to pick something. What stands out, gets picked. So let’s say the user narrowed down the selection to these four. Which of these stand out:

Wine Library product selection page.

The ones with points, of course! Product badging is very effective. There are tons of case studies where it has repeatedly boosted conversions and sales.

Product photos

What’s the most important factor when it comes to picking out a pair of shoes, a new shirt or a wristwatch? The way the product looks, of course! You’re going to buy shoes that you like.

Most ecommerce category pages look something like this:

Shoes category page.

They make it hard to fall in love with a pair. It would be much more effective when it’d look something like this:

Hardgraft shoes.

Help people find a pair to fall in love with! Large category images will help you get the job done.

We did this for a client a while ago. They used to have four products in a row on the category page:

Shoes category page.

We changed it to three products, and made the image larger:

Larger product images for shoes.

Result: 25% more sales.

The story of two chickens

This story will help you further understand why larger images work better.

Research participants were showed two photos. One was a nice looking, plump chicken. The other was a chicken that looked thin and sickly. Participants were told that the plump chicken was a natural chicken, and the thin chicken was genetically engineered.

The story of two chickens: chicken 1.

The researchers informed half of the participants that natural chickens were healthy but less tasty, and genetically engineered chickens were tasty, but less healthy. The other half were told the opposite.

Overwhelmingly, both halves of participants preferred the nice plump chicken, but their reasoning was different. The first group claimed it was because they valued health above taste, and the second group said it was because taste was more important.

Neither group seemed to justify their choice based on how they felt about the chicken’s looks. They felt compelled to justify their emotional choices with non-emotional reasons, to the point that the two groups found completely opposite ways to justify the same decision.

Main takeaway? People were sold based on the picture. Product images are huge for conversions.

5. One action per screen, when they’re ready

You need to start with a clearly defined most wanted action for each page—and optimize them for it. This goes back to the clear message, visual hierarchy, and drawing attention to that one action.

Campaign Monitor wants us to create a free account here. The single most wanted action is obvious:

Campaign Monitor homepage.

Most of us will have secondary calls to action as well, and that’s perfectly okay—but they should be just that, secondary.

Here the primary call to action is to start a free trial, and secondary call to action is to email the sales team in case of any questions:

Noko time tracker CTAs.

Okay, that’s all pretty much obvious, but when should you ask for action?

This site here has an obvious primary call to action:

Wizzley call to action.

Will you sign up? Didn’t think so! They’re asking you to register before even explaining properly what the site is about and how it works. Not a good idea on their part. You have to present the call to action when the customer is ready to act.

Here’s a case study by Marketing Experiments where they split tested a short landing page vs. long landing page. The only difference was the amount of information given before asking for a donation. Result: more copy before the call to action brings in 75% more money.

Guys at Zurb got a 350% lift in conversions just for burying the call to action button. There are many more case studies like that.

It’s not about hiding the button, but asking for action when the user is ready. IDC reports that 50% of purchases are not completed due to insufficient information—no wonder! People always want to operate with full information.

So when is the right time to ask for action? The rule of the thumb is that the more expensive and/or complex the product, the more information you need to provide before people are ready to take action. Start with this principle in mind and A/B test from here.

Fogg behavior model

This is explained well by Fogg Behavior Model: people will take action when you present the trigger (call to action) when their motivation is at their highest, and it’s easy to take that action.

You want to aim top right (high motivation, easy to do, a trigger in place). If you have high motivation and low ability (difficult to do), what you’ll get is frustration. If it’s low motivation, but easy to do (e.g., take out the trash), you get annoyance.

So make it a priority to figure out when is the right time to trigger the audience.


You can influence people’s behavior without using words. Persuasive web design works.

These five principles leave you lots of freedom for execution, but if you implement around them, you will end up with a more persuasive web design. Keep them in mind whenever you start a new design project.

Related Posts

Join the conversation Add your comment

  1. Epic post Peep! Lots of good principles to be reminded of.

    1. This is a fantastic article, I’m a content marketer but can take a lot from here for the world of content marketing too.

      Have shared with my org’s Creative Director!

    2. I agree, this is indeed an epic one. Took me an hour to read it with all the extra resources. Amazing.

    3. EPIC is the word.

      Working on the new http://www.yoxstudios.com at the moment and this has definitely got me thinking of redoing some elements.

      Thanks a lot

  2. wow, that was a really interesting read and i learned a ton. Thanks!

  3. Peep, I’m with you when you say clarity, but my web observations are very mixed up when it comes to sales page design- especially one-page designs. My general observation is the exact opposite of any given Apple page or modern simplistic focus page: generally, there is a horde of information-arguments-testimonials-pictures with a buy button in every 900px vertically. Also, these days, the page starts with a video with no visible control buttons.

    I think the reason is inconfidence for the product and fear of the non-returning visitor: the product is not unique and probably not the best choice in its price range and as it is not so important for the visitor, he/she may never return.

    Their solution is confusing the visitor by throwing more than necessary info to disturb his/her thinking. This is accompanied by a pseudo-urgency thanks to some time limited offer. And, again, I see a lot of these.

    What’s your take on this? It’s right/wrong? Why is it so widely used?

    1. Agreed! Thank you for this excellent article that gives us the reasons behind what is currently working. It’s like glow-in-the-dark footprints!

  4. Good once Peep! Very nice and lots and lots of information. Thanks!

  5. This is one of the most useful sites to start-ups and online marketers! And I’ve seen a lot. I notice things here (in not only this article) that I was doing for a long time, but never gave much thought. It is way more fun when you approach things analytically like this :)

    1. Avatar photo

      Indeed – it’s fun when you can spot the techniques being used – and they work even when you know what’s happening!

  6. Very good post.. useful and amusing too for the stories and the way to tell them. You could have create 10 post out of this one… BTW… well done.

    1. Avatar photo

      Indeed, Giovanni! But long, thorough posts is my style :)

  7. Thanks Peep,
    A huge amount there to take on board !!

  8. EPIC!

    I never ever leave a comment but after this post I just had to. Otherwise It would feel like steeling. :)

    You know whats funny? Peep IS an expert.
    I see a lot of other “experts” who sell crap and get more attention.

    Peep 4 president! :)

    @Peep: what other blogs would you recommend that write really quality stuff WITH EXAMPLES? I read contentverve.com that guy is also really good.

    1. Avatar photo

      Thanks! Yeah, Michael from ContentVerve produces great stuff. I also like Unbounce blog, MarketingExperiments blog and CRE blog a lot to name a few.

  9. I’m a bit tired of the whole write epic shit train, but bloody hell, if anything was epic, that was. I am compelled to comment.

    Hats off peep, excellent post which I know I will revisit many times.

    Thank you.

  10. Perhaps the best web design article ever written.

    It’s interested that some designers still don’t undertand the power of simplicity and designing to get the “next step.” Ken Evoy wrote about this design element in his book, “Make Your Site SELL” back in 1999. He called it, designing for your “Most Wanted Response.”

    It seems that in just the past couple years have some of the newer websites been adopting this design strategy.

    Thank you for encouraging us and writing this amazing piece of education.

  11. Loved the post and the comments. I think you have a great book in the future. Thanks and have a great week

  12. This post was absolutely epic! :) Very practical information… Thanks!

  13. Peep, your articles never fail to amaze me & your interview at BrightIdeas.co as well :)

  14. Thanks so much for a BRILLIANT article. There’s so much useful information I’ll be re-reading it several times.
    Thank you!

  15. Great article! I don’t like to use “epic” very often but yeah, EPIC!

  16. You sir cannot stop overdelivering, my god

  17. Thank you so much! This was amazing! I love how you included examples of what works and what doesn’t and then told us why. This was extremely informative. I look forward to reading more of your work. Thanks again!

  18. Wow Peep, this is huge! So much great info that I was not able to skim. Loved all your tips.


  19. Holly Crap, I’m stressing out because my website sucks!!! Believe me, I’ve bookmarked this post and whipping out my thinking cap and html editor. I have lot’s of work to do :)

    Great stuff Peep, thanks a ton!

  20. Great post as always Peep…
    Keep them coming.. and ya big congratulations on ur book.. i read it and its totally amazing..
    Thanks again..

  21. Very condensed helpful information! Great job! Bookmarked!
    Maybe it just me…but i would pick the copywriting image to the left lol

  22. Peep. Damn you’re good. I appreciate the time, energy and insight you bring to your information. I never post a reply but just wanted you to know. Robo

  23. So much information but effortless to read as it’s so well written. Fantastic job!

  24. Really excited to see your results on my brick and mortar business Peep! You are providing some serious ninja stuff for people. Thanks.

  25. Very interesting article. I definitely agree with people not changing defaults-it drives me crazy when I find a car stereo set on the crummy defaults (or buy my wife a kick-ass flat screen TV with all the bells and whistles, and she watches it set to all the defaults, just for example ;-) )
    Thanks for the time & effort of writing this up!

  26. Very interesting! Looking forward to apply this on future websites :-)

  27. Hey Peep!

    Great post.

    You suggest avoiding superlatives. But what if you really are the best?

    For example, on their home page AdRoll.com (#7 on Inc. 5000 list) claims “AdRoll is the most effective retargeting platform in the world.”

    If this is true, do you think it’s in their best interest (sales/conversions) to say it?

    1. Avatar photo

      Best according to whom? The business owner? Not very credible :) Best according to Forbes magazine? Then say so!

      If you claim a superlative, back it up with proof.

  28. ” Someone I know once commented “I regularly go to Airbnb to look at the photos and dream of travelling“. Goal achieved! ”

    WOW……That’s so powerful for a business to achieve !

    Amazing post, Tons of insights & actionable advice like always. The “secret”lies in taking action on it and putting it to test.


    great post peep. god bless you.

    Make your day great

  29. One of the best articles I have read for years. Reminded me of some stuff I had forgotten and told me stuff I didn’t know. Definitely going to come back for more.

  30. This article is like an oasis in the desert of opinions and confusion. Thank you.

  31. First time i visit your blog and really like your writing style normally i read “search engine watch” ” A List Apart” and neil patel blog to update my skills , i think i also need to bookmark your web-blog. Anyways come to the point, the main factor is visual appeal because first impression decides customers mind.

  32. Great post Peep,
    “British researchers analyzed ” returned 404 error.

  33. Awesome post!

    Only disagreed with one point. We have a huge proportion of traffic head over to our “Who We Are” page, (which has no increased visual hierarchy). The visitors second step if typically product pages.

    Our story seems to build a ton of trust which then works hand in hand with conversions!

  34. This is an excellent post! Thank you for the great examples and insight!

  35. I am an inbound marketing director that dabbles in web design, and this post is absolutely amazing. That is all.

  36. This was some seriously enriching and enlightening information on persuasion. The biggest lesson I learned is the standing out large view of products and emphasis on call-to-action buttons. Well done Peep! Thank you.

  37. This si truly an article about responsive web design. It’s been a while.

    Great job!

    Ronald Mason

  38. Excellent Peep, I will print it and put it in my wall!!!

    The only think I would dare to contribute is a phrase I love and that is very related with your post:

    “There is only one chance to make the best first impression”

  39. Wow!!! Mann peep this is one amongst best article which i have ever read.
    Well done man.It has lots of information which will be helpful for me.
    Thank you

  40. With the “organ donor” example, I would advise not to use this with things like needing to opt OUT of mailing lists etc. I think most users find that sneaky, and to find out later that they neglected to actively opt out of something they didn’t want is plain irritating.

  41. Very good article. The book Thinking Fast and Slow shows that the brain make decisions or explain decisions that he made using wrong statistics, like classifying events as more risky than others because they appear more in the news. How can we translate into our websites to build trust our improve conversion?

  42. Thanks for the article! It was very informative. Those aspects definitely are key to having a good web page.

  43. Very good post Peep. Usually I make pauses when reading posts, but not this time. Very enjoyable post.

  44. Great read! Love all the examples you put in. Even got a bigger smile on my face when I saw my own redesigned homepage for Knab used as a positive example! I think that’s one the biggest compliments I ever got as a designer. Many thanks!

    1. Avatar photo

      Kickass! If you do any freelance work, hit me up :)

  45. wow ,based on this my site needs a a lot of work ,Good information provided thanks

  46. Many skilled designers already use some of these psychological techniques intuitively. Informative Page!

  47. Great post! Thank you for the tips. I’ll be sure to take note of them all.

  48. Great site. Very very important information !!! Merci

  49. I created my website as a goofy blog 20 years ago to teach myself HTML and CSS, but started getting writing and design work, so I turned it into a business. But, the design eventually stopped working, and now I know WHY! There is no design, and what there is, is bad, bad, bad!

    I’ve been wanting to re-do my site for a decade, but didn’t know where to start. Now, I know what to do. (I need to start from scratch!)

    Thank you so much for the all the great advice!


  50. There is so much value in this post, thanks!

  51. Fantastic post, really. I will be sending this over to our webmaster for sure. You touch on calls to action, what do you think about newer services like click to call or click for video? WebRTC coming around is making those services easier and cheaper to install, and removing barriers between your visitors and your sales teams has proven successfull for our customers. Thoughts?

  52. Hi Peep,
    that was a very interesting and easy to understand article. I am still a novice at Webdesign and have lots to learn.
    Look forward to more of your articles.
    Thank you,

  53. That was an INCREDIBLE tutorial on design principles. Thank you very very much… Some much needed tips that really get down to the PSYCHOLOGY of human brains and not just “what’s in” fads or web designer “echo chambers” trying to one up each other….

    Thanks! I’ll be coming back


  54. Hey, Peep…
    You left me speechless, mate – this is so epic, it shouldn’t be allowed to be a mere blog post.
    It deserves to be a book, rather.

    I am very happy I found it, though – you’ve gained a follower in me now.
    Thanks for sharing all this freely like you did.

    Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo
    Chief Editor # eMail Tips Daily Newsletter

  55. Very interesting post, thank you for sharing!

  56. Great, wonderful, the best, fabulous post!
    Ok, maybe I did not get that part about annoying superlatives and no info.

  57. i understand your article easily. nice point you have there. all i can say is, “AMAZING!”

  58. Phenomenal post. I’m completely blown away!

  59. How do you avoid being tagged for “duplicate content” in search engines when considering A/B testing for similar pages (pretty much 95% the same + or -)? Also, let alone, 4 or 5 variations of the same content?



  60. This is awesome Peep, I was doing so many things the wrong way and making no money online. I gave my visitors a lot of information overload when they were just looking to buy a product, now I know better thanks to you Peep. I will be following you forever!

  61. This was good stuff.
    keep up the good work

  62. I am sure there could be a few more principles and also that just knowing these principles doesn’t mean the job is done. Executing them meaningfully and intelligently is another journey. But having read this article 25% of the work is done towards a good shot at the product design. The next 25% is to keep it in your heart and wallet everytime you have an interaction with your visual and interaction designers. Thank you Peep.

  63. hi i am blog maker and my blog is 6 month old but my traffic is very bad how i am increase my blog traffic..

  64. Peep… Kudos! I have shared your article on Facebook and sent it to a few people by email. I’m referencing your article as one of the best reads in a long long time.

    Quick question. I understand the need for information before the call to action, but what about a “dual call to action” where you have the red pill and the blue pill… the red pill being the signup now and skip the information… the blue pill being the tell me more and give me the full tour. Would that be unwise? I think some of our visitors will have already been sold by one of our agents (we sell managed wordpress web hosting) and want to sign up right away. Should they be directed elsewhere?

  65. This is a great article. Got to use some of the advices here. The fly in the toilet is funny, because its true :)

  66. I like the part where using design and limiting selection to help customers make a choice to buy and therefore increasing overall sales. This is really powerful stuff. Persuasion by design. Perfect.

  67. Fascinating article. Made my head hurt from great idea overload. Thank you very much.

  68. I have been trying to finish a sales page and I was searching for information and I found your page…it is absolutely awesome.

    Thanks for taking the time to share.

    Gail J Richardson

  69. What an amazing post! Great and so helpful. Thanks a lot for this.

  70. I love this article. I refer to it with every new web design project we start. Thanks so much!

  71. I’m a data-driven creative director and this article was, to quote Marcy Playground, like Sex & Candy. You had me at flies in the urinal and I couldn’t stop reading. Thank you, thank you! Can’t wait to read more.

  72. Just made this post my DEFAULT homepage on both of the browsers I use.

    Excellent post.


  73. Thanks for being so generous. This is so helpful and applicable!

    I particularly appreciated the illustrations – as they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

    Lots of notes to read back through.

  74. S I M P L Y S P E C T A C U L A R !



  75. I’ve sent this around to everyone in the office. For a moment I paused and imagined a web where every web agency implemented these principles. Thanks very much Peep for sharing.

  76. I love this article. I refer to it with every new web design project we start. Thanks so much!..Great…!!!

  77. Hey very nice blog!! Excellent.. Amazing.. It really is a great idea.

  78. I particularly appreciated the illustrations – as they say, a picture paints a thousand words. Thanks..

  79. I know how they got spillage rates to drop – they were trying to pee on the fly!!

  80. The best article about web design principles I found. I thought I knew almost everything (so arrogant) but looks like I still have a lot of things to learn.

    First website where I subscribed for updates and gave my real email address, this article created trust and “Email once a week. Unsubscribe at any time with a single click.” also helped – I believed it.

    I made a lot of notes and copies of the articles (just for me). I tried to cut out something but couldn’t.

    Happy to know that I used some best website principles in my websites (without even knowing it, just instinct) but still I could improve ….. a lot.

    Great stuff.

  81. Great article. Alot to reed and learn. Thanks mate

  82. peep i find this article very interesting I enjoy every principle but my favorite of all was Strong visual hierarchy it give me any Ideas for future projects !Thanks!

  83. Wow…this is impressive content…thanks.

  84. Awesome post. The takeaways are numerous and looks like we’re in for an overhaul. Thank you. Gracias.

  85. Awesome info here with a humorous perspective. On that note, one of your links points to the wrong URL. It’s Uncyclopedia.co :)

  86. Amazing post. Extremely informative. Thanks :)

  87. Thanks for a great article Peep!

    I couldn’t stop reading! Only problem is now I want to re-do my whole website… again!

  88. Un bon site comme je l’ai adore, encore merci .

  89. This is really interesting, and it seems to easily apply if you’re selling a single product, or service. But what if you sell multiple educational products, all by a single educator and your website needs to first persuade the visitor that you’re the right person to buy from, and then you need to get them to the right product in your catalog? For the first obstacle, we present all kinds of proof and credibility in the form of written testimonials, video testimonials, credentials, reviews by major press, etc. It’s very easy to overload the visitor with these things, hoping that something they read or see will cause them to make the first decision that they want to learn from you. So my question is, how do you know what and how much to provide on the homepage to get them past that first obstacle?

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5 Principles of Persuasive Web Design