I read a lot of books and in this field it’s good to both refresh and improve your skills. The latest book I finished (just this morning) is Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? by Susan M. Weinschenk.
The book takes a look at web design from a psychological point of view . Inside Susan covers topics ranging from how the brain functions, to what primary instincts are triggered by certain events we experience in our life.
If you have ever taken college psychology a lot of the material about brain composition, comprehension and the like will seem very familiar. What is great about this book is how Susan manages to apply these basic human survival functions to the usage of web sites.
Inside you will find a lot of research and case studies, each concept building upon the last and ultimately bringing home the abstract ideas to concrete web activities.
One particularly interesting scenario revolves around product reviews and how we can structure these to appeal to a web users:
“Imagine you’re at a chain store looking for a HD flat screen television, a random bystander comes by and you ask him what he thinks of the TV.”
Perhaps you do this with thirty other people in the store, asking each of them what they think of the TV. It sounds kind of foolish, but how many of us repeat this scenario multiple times a day online? We are easily swayed and influenced by the ratings and reviews of strangers online. We just don’t know who or what the experience level is of people rating a product online. Yet, when we see the 130 people gave this 4 stars. It directly influences our purchasing decisions. Now that is power!
The book continues to take a look at this method and refines the concept because of the ever changing skeptical nature of web users. Now we may find the review rating backed up by technological, or subject matter expertise.
Overall this book is a great read and should cause some re-reading if you really want to get the most out of it. The first 1-7 chapters really tap into your “old brain” and you may want to stop reading a bit and just sit and think about how you can apply them to your web site. I know I did this. Chapters 8- to the end really rein-force a lot of the concepts. What I found however is that my brain was so busy thinking of ideas, and ways to change content, etc I had already come up with a lot of the material that was covered in these subsequent chapters.
Bottom Line: Get the book, read it, and practice what you learn.