Around Thanksgiving last year, the Internet got really excited over dog brain scans. Neuroscience research confirmed that dogs really do love their owners. Neuroimaging found the owner’s scent, voice, and eye contact stimulates the reward center in a dog’s brain.
Any dog owner will tell you they don’t need neuroscience to know that dogs and people communicate. Brain science, however, does help us understand why it works.
Neuroscience isn’t just for dogs. Understanding how human brains respond to sights and sounds helps us craft persuasive messages and deliver them in a brain-friendly way. Applying neuroscience principles to your landing pages can have the same effect and increase conversion rates.
Neuroscience is complicated. This article will not be. I will break it down into the four simple principles to apply to landing page design. For readers wanting to dig deeper into the mysteries of the brain, I’ll include links to all of the science.
Psychology Today sums it up nicely:
The human brain has been called the most complex object in the known universe ... Neuroscience aims to understand how a person arises out of a clump of squishy matter. It's where psychology meets biology.
In a nutshell, neuroscience is the study of the brain and nervous system. We are interested in how we use it to make decisions.
For example, according to Brain World Magazine, when your eyes encounter punctuation, your brain is prompted to assemble all of the words you've read and process them into a coherent thought. So all of those commas and exclamation points we use in our writing, really do matter.
And now, the principles …
Making decisions engages your brain in a way that relieves stress and releases the feel-good chemical dopamine. As neuroscience researcher Alex Korb puts it, “We don’t just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.”
We know that making decisions can be hard. A recent study examined how having multiple options affects decision making. They found the brain could not identify the best choice when faced with too many options, even if not all options were available.
Limit the options. Fewer distractions will help visitors make the decision to choose your product or service, making everyone happy!
Watching videos activates our Fusiform Face Area (FFA), the part of our brain responsible for recognizing familiar faces. The FFA area also connects to our emotions, forming social and informational ties to what we see. Similarly, check out this article on the psychological impact of videos and why they work so well.
Case in point: Here’s a JibJab landing page I arrived at via Facebook advertising:
The video options are engaging although I would reduce them to one or two on the initial landing page. JibJab members receive video promotions featuring their own photos, adding facial recognition for an extra pop of neuroscience.
If you don’t have a video, still images are also brain-friendly for your landing page. A 2014 MIT study revealed the brain can process and interpret images the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds.
Surprisingly, the study found our processing is high-speed even when images are unfamiliar. So scrap the overused stock photos in favor of original, eye-catching images.
Let’s take a look at the power of images. Here’s a Yoga Journal landing page:
For many people, yoga is a way of life, but this page lacks energy. While the special offer column tries to attract specific audiences, the lack of imagery fails to evoke an emotional connection in the reader and having them subscribe.
By comparison, here is GAIAM’s yoga site:
The image is very simple combined with a single evocative sentence in the purple section at the bottom. It invites the viewer to imagine themselves as limber and serene. The “Get Started” CTA provides the means to turn the idea into reality.
Showcase images and videos relevant to your product or service. Attract attention and form emotional connections to convert visitors into customers.
Our brains don’t work well when overstimulated. Too much action, color, and noise overwhelm our senses. Too much copy on a page and readers can’t hone in on the important stuff – namely, the CTA.
Language processing is complex and neuroscience research has yet to come up with a definitive explanation for how it works. We do know the eye can focus on about 13 characters at a time, such as “Download Now” or “Call for Quote.” Keep your messages short and sweet.
Airlines are the worst at overstimulation. Look where I landed after searching for “cheap airfare to San Francisco”:
The top part of this landing page offers a familiar flight search tool. But Southwest Airlines jumps the gun with special offers, mileage promotions, and early bird check-in – all before I’ve even started my search.
Too much, too soon. Information overload has me heading for the exit row.
Zapier’s page is fantastic. The full-frame background image adds interest without deterring from the message. The monochromatic color scheme lets the reddish-orange infuse energy without overpowering the senses. Ka-pow!
Going mobile? No problem. Same design applies, only this time it’s mobile responsive:
Zapier’s mobile landing page retains the sound neuroscience principles of its desktop version. Read my earlier post for more tips on mobile landing page design.
Keep design simple. Don’t overwhelm visitors with “brain drains” that distract from your CTA.
Ever wonder why you can hear your name spoken across a crowded room? Your brain is wired to hear it. Our brains go for the familiar. We scan images for recognizable faces and search out familiar words, both written and spoken.
According to MIT Professor Mary Potter, we’re organizing information into concepts. “That’s what the brain is doing all day long — trying to understand what we’re looking at.”
Create an immediate sense of familiarity by using common search terms on your landing page. “Pre-order movie tickets now” is easier to process than “Sneak peek scenes from the silver screen.” And please, no jargon or acronyms except for a few rare occasions.
Search Engine Land’s Mona Elesseily suggests grouping content into categories and using color themes to help the brain organize the information for easy digestion. Her example of shopping sites organizing options by subcategories is spot-on accurate.
Use familiar content and don’t ignore punctuation. Organize your landing page into patterns to guide visitors to take your desired action.
From a dog’s understanding of “fetch” to our innate attraction to faces and white spaces, our interactions with the world are governed by the brain. Applying these four basic neuroscience principles to your landing page design is the “brainy” thing to do.
And trust us, your conversion rate will thank you.
I hope you found this article informative, but not overwhelming. For more amazing brain insight and how it applies to your landing pages, read this article on landing page psychology or see how easy it is to create a professionally designed landing page within minutes!