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Month May 2009

Book Review: Neuro Web Design

Book cover: Neuro Web Design - What Makes Them Click?


A great insight into human behavioral patterns as it relates to influencing consumer decisions and building engagement with Web sites.

Neuro Web Design – What Makes Them Click?


I’ve bought and read “Neuro Web Design” for my airplane ride to SXSW and really liked it. It was an entertaining read. The book doesn’t really focus on design elements or “hardcore” IA, it talks more about some basic ideas about how people interact with Web sites.

I didn’t find the actual conclusions in the book to be revealing. Most of the stuff is User Design 101, but the books gives some good insight to why people have certain behaviors and how it relates to psychology and even life outside of Web design. My favorite parts of the book are the descriptions of psychological studies that demonstrate a premise in the book. It great to be able to understand more deeply how and why people associate themselves with specific personas and as a designer how you can tap into that. One potential downside for the reader is the book isn’t a how-to book, it’s just informative about behaviors.

Example Study

Here one of my favorite studies (very edited version):

In “Chapter 7 – Building Commitment—We Want to Think We’re Consistent” (on page 76-77) the author writes about a study where unsuspecting people were asked if they would put a large and ugly “Keep California Beautiful” sign in their lawn. Three groups are asked separate questions.

Group A:

The organizers for “Keep California Beautiful” in their first encounter ask the home owner to place a large promotional sign in their yard.

< 20% approve

Group B

Before being asked if they’d place the large sign in their yard. They were asked if they would place a small three-inch “Drive Carefully.” sign in their car window.

Three weeks later they are asked if they would place the large “Keep California Beautiful People” promotional sign in their yard.

46% approve

Group C

This group is first asked to sign a petition to “Keep California Beautiful.” Then three weeks later they are ask to place the large “Keep California Beautiful” sign in their yard.

76% approve

This is a good example of how the study is more interesting then the design principal. Most designers have heard of tapping into internal personas (meaning tapping into people’s views of themselves as a certain type of person such as environmentally conscious or thrifty), many know how, some even know why. But the study really shows how strongly it can affect people’s decisions.

I recommend the book as a good and entertaining read, but don’t necessarily expect it to change the way you do your work. It will most likely just reinforce some of the principals you already use. Plus, it’s great to be able to show a client, boss or co-worker that making great design isn’t just about flourishes, gradients, and racing stripes.There is a science to the way people interact with design.

<cynicism>Note: logic doesn’t prevail with all people.</cynicism>

My Rating: 4.2 out of 5

hReview version 0.3 Review type: product