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Liz Huh

Liz Huh

Director UX

Persuading your Audience to Engage

When you come across a well-designed website or application, can you identify the reasons why it spoke to you? Did the design successfully persuade you to keep reading and exploring?

  • Did the content speak your language? Did the terms and messaging resonate with you by appealing to your sense of reasoning or logic (the most commonly used method of persuasion), emotions, ethics, or aesthetics?
  • Did the overall communication speak to your needs or goals directly? e.g., desire to consume only plant-based products
  • Did the visual treatment appeal to your sense of aesthetics? Clean and minimalistic? Friendly but professional? Quirky and fun?

Ultimately, communicating with your audience
using the appropriate methods of persuasion
leads to higher user engagement.

Once you get past the initial hurdle of grabbing the audience’s attention and convincing them they are in the right place, the key to keeping them on your website or application is to support their end goals. You do so by providing clear signifiers and pathways to accomplishing their goals. By removing potential points of friction, you encourage the audience to stay, enjoy, and accomplish their objectives.

“But I’m only running an informational website”

In a course I recently facilitated on persuasive design, a participant remarked that they weren’t concerned with persuasion since their website was informational only. When asked why their organization had a website, the response was “because everyone has to have one.” 

When probed further, the participant responded that their website provided information about recreational activities in southern Ontario so citizens can find:

  • leisure activities close to where they live, e.g., campsites or local excursions 
  • economical outdoor and indoor activities since air travel is expensive

“It sounds like your organization wants to inform, promote, and persuade citizens to pursue local leisure activities and trips whether you’re intentionally designing to these goals or not.”

Every piece of communication whether it’s a picture, email,
video, ad, or website embodies a form of persuasion, whether it’s
intentionally designed or not. Control the message by designing
content and messaging to support users’ needs and wants, rather
then leaving your message vague and open to interpretation.

Using Persuasive Design Strategies

Now that we’ve established your website’s goals, the next task is to consider persuasion methods and examples to support your overall website strategy to engage users:

Website GoalMethod of Persuasion
Establish authority and credibilityAppeal to authority: On the homepage, indicate your organization’s mandate (e.g., to support tourism)Prominently place branding (e.g., logos) on the homepage and throughout the website.
Provide facts and figures e.g., 10 000 visitors visit the city for a local festival annually. Ask for feedback about the user experience.
Provide a compelling visual designAppeal to aesthetics: What imagery evokes the feelings that you want to evoke? E.g., joy, fun, relaxation?
Is the design aesthetically consistent with other competitive websites? Or does it diverge significantly?
If so, end-user testing is even more critical.
Provide a site structure and user flows based on users’ goals and priorities Design a  solid information architecture (structure and navigation) from end-users perspectives.
Structuring your content and enabling intuitive flows persuades your audience that you’re supporting their needs.
Ensure the terminology you use and relationships to other concepts are clear; ensure navigation supports wayfinding.
Potentially appeal to budget-conscious consumersAppeal to reason and rationality: Display costs for booking a campsite upfrontProvide other helpful information such as other costs that the visitor may incur, e.g., parking fees.
Potentially compare the costs of choosing camping vs the cost of travelling for 1 week for a family of 4.
Present vivid images perhaps with families and friends enjoying nature Appeal to human social needs, and emotions (happiness, hope, social).
Consider displaying images of local events and real images of people enjoying outdoor activities in a social setting (e.g., a group of friends enjoying themselves by a campfire, or a local concert).
Potentially appeal to environmental concerns Appeal to values/ethics – concern for the environment and environmentally wasteful past times.
Provide the benefits of enjoying nature vs. indoor activities such as watching videos or playing video games.

Designing Persuasively 

This is a sampling of techniques to convey messages that resonate with end-users to drive engagement with your product or service. 

Appealing to people’s senses of reasoning, aesthetics, emotions, and sometimes values, you can deliver a highly persuasive product or service to support the audience’s and your organization’s website goals for engagement, no matter how you define your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). 

Wishing you success with your next project!

Liz Huh

Liz Huh

Director UX

Since 2005, Liz has gained a wealth of experience in the financial, public, and software (B2B and B2C) industries. With over 10 years working with technology companies, Liz has honed her unique blend of creative and analytical skills enabling her to quickly immerse herself and deliver insights into UX research and design projects. Liz is passionate about getting to the root of issues that people face when using products or services. She skillfully guides teams from problem identification through to ideation, research, and design.


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.