An Event Apart: Seductive Design

by Luke Wroblewski December 7, 2009

At An Event Apart San Francisco, Andy Budd outlined how the principles of seduction can be applied to Web site design in his presentation Seductive Design.

  • Seductive interfaces was coined by a Microsoft researcher in 1994. It outlines using physiological principles to engage people and draw them into a product.
  • The Approach: 55% of women make up their mind in 30 seconds about men they are interested. It takes men about 30 minutes.
  • Halo effect: first judgments cloud us for rest of our interactions. People stick with initial decisions.
  • Looks count: attractive people get paid more, win elections, etc. We have a hardwired focus on attractive people.
  • First impressions count: people judge things based on how they look. Get people in and engaged through rich interactions.
  • Be easy to get along with: Can provide trust indicators on the Web like testimonials, contact information, visual design.
  • Be friendly: user names displayed on sites help create personal bonds.
  • Mystery: people are interested in closing the loop and finding the answers to a mystery.
  • Rapport: learn about the other person. Elongate and tease people through the “get to know you phase”
  • Shared interests count in relationships. We are more attracted to people with similar interests. It re-confirms what we like about ourselves.
  • Familiarity breeds attractiveness. Friends and common locations help build attraction. We like to be around people that we feel comfortable with.
  • Do we need to design interfaces to look like the common Joe or like the most elegant person at the party?
  • Populate your site with the kind of people you want to attract.
  • Social proof: we are influenced by what others are doing –displaying activity helps drive usage.
  • Nobody likes a bragger: much better to have other people tell you how good something is. Testimonials help drive usage.
  • Desire: people always want what they can’t have. You can play with that.
  • Humor helps. Make your experiences fun so people remember them.
  • Play hard to get: don’t show everything up front. Reveal more at each step. Carousels don’t show everything at once –tease people to click through to what else is there.
  • Get a personality: small details help engage people.
  • Invitations and private betas help encourage interest. You want what you can’t have.
  • Too often sites try to seduce you too early.
  • Commitment: how to maintain long-term engagement. Proximity –be around people you like. Give praise/give something back.
  • Social exchange theory –when benefit outweighs costs you are more likely to spend time with people. Your service’s benefits should outweigh costs.
  • Possessiveness, ability to forgive faults, longing – ways to know you have an emotional attachment to Web services.
  • Reward people’s behaviors. Psychological conditioning to get people to behave in ways we want.
  • Want relationships to go on over time –the more you give to a relationship, the more you get back over time. Help people become experts. Build in ways for people to grow with your product.
  • Admit to mistakes –it helps to strengthen relationships