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  • Kelly Castle
  • 28 Sep 2022

The psychology of websites

Psychology, websites and marketing are synonymous.

If we are to boil down psychology, it’s the process of seeking to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles. What is he/she/they doing and why? Information that is perfect for creating the perfect website and marketing user journey for the user.

I’m not stating it’s the be-all and end-all of a website but sometimes knowledge like “we show an involuntarily attentional bias towards 4/5 items in a scene at a time,” can make the difference between a generic user journey and a clever user journey.

Five psychology principles to help your website grow

Below I have detailed five principles of online psychology that may – or may not – help you enhance the profitability of a website.

1. The foot in the door principle

The foot-in-the-door phenomenon defines how people are more willing to do something if they have already done a small favour for you.

As an example, within a website if you purchase a product as a guest and following the purchase, you’re asked to add your email and name to create an account, it becomes a lot more of an attractive request than just asking to create an account from the offset.

2. Social Proof (the trust factor)

We’re not all shepherds and most of us go with the flow. If XXX amount of people have reviewed a company, then our instincts are to think they must be trustworthy. I know this seems questionable, especially as you may have been told a company’s services are poor by a friend. Still, alas, we rarely trust an individual’s opinion against a group’s idea (even if the ideas seem ridiculous to everyone).

Now include evidence of the company being popular on the website, such as a review widget, and you have a ‘Social Proof’ stimulus at work.

3. Scarcity

When you believe something is in short supply, you are more like to want it, e.g., that renowned red sign saying: “Sale, purchase before we run out!”. Or a popular airline is telling people how many seats are available on the flight.

This call to action can influence the emotional brain like no one’s business. Think of Black Friday, or the boxing day sales, where a vast section of the population goes mad, and yes, I mean mad, to try and get the deals before they run out.

4. Framing

This principle acknowledges that we humans are not very good at estimating prices. People make comparisons, this being one of the big reasons comparison websites do so well! Putting a few prices in front of people will, to an extent, allow you to create a web page that makes specific pricing seem attractive. Hence, you see most commercial b2b websites have 3-5 prices on one page, hoping to " frame” one price to the user. Where the company will know one price will look more attractive when grouped with other varying prices.

5. Brevity

The smaller the word count, the more likely a visitor will retain the information. People skim read, and approximately read only 20% of the content on a webpage. When posts are 111 words or less, people are likely to read 50% - as documented by the NNG group.

You can easily argue that “more is better”, especially if you talk to some SEO consultants, but there is a happy middle. But the information people need, why they need it and what they’ll do next, at the top and everything else you want further down.


Obviously the above is not a finite list of psychological effects which may affect a user of a website, and if anything, it may just be confirming your previous views. However, sometimes the simplest processes and knowledge give the best results. Hence why I have drafted this article.

I'm always wanting to investigate other psychological influences of (digital) marketing - so please comment if you feel I should have a look at other principles!

Contact our design and marketing team to understand how psychology can help your business. Or book a 15 minutes consultation by clicking this link.

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