Conversions: Psychology Behind Mobile Behaviors

by Luke Wroblewski March 24, 2017

In her Psychology Behind Mobile Behaviors presentation at Google Conversions 2017 in Dublin, Ireland, Nathalie Nahai walked through several psychological principles to consider when designing mobile experiences. Here's my notes from her talk:

  • We use mobile for everything, even when it's not the best tool for the job. What interactions keep people coming back and why? Those backed by psychological principles like: cognitive load, processing fluency, hedonic adaptaion, and dopamine loops.
  • Cognitive load is the total amount of mental effort used to complete a task. We have a limited capacity for cognitive processing so we need to lower mental effort on mobile to optimize conversions.
  • Experiencing delays on mobile causes levels of stress higher than horror movies (Ercikson research)
  • To reduce mental effort, make it easier for people to make decisions. Examples: ratings, social proof.
  • Reduce the amount of effort required to purchase something. Single step checkouts: lower effort for each step. All information in one step can be overwhelming. Reduce the number of actions required to achieve the goal; split process into single steps; manage visual presentation by visuaally grouping elements.
  • Processing Fluency is the ease with which people process content; content that is easy to process is usually perceived as more trustworthy.
  • Repetition: we tend to rate things that are receptive as more true. Repetitive calls to action and jingles tend to be more memorable. Use messages with structure so people will learn them and respond to similar/familiar calls to action.
  • Visual clarity helps processing. If an interface is easy to understand, people are more likely to experience pleasure with it. This leads to higher purchasing intent & repeat experiences.
  • Increase contrast between text & background; simplify language; have direct, tangible calls to action.
  • Hedonic Adaptation: we become accustomed to positive or negative stimulus over time. The more exposed to something we are, the more bored we get with it.
  • Don’t give people a chance to get bored. Update product frequently; change layout structure; alter user experience: don’t do this in a way that pisses people off. Make smaller changes and test to not break things. There needs to be a balance between familiarity and new.
  • Dopamine is a chemical that causes pleasure seeking behaviors: makes you look for rewards.
  • Habitual products create dopamine loops: we seek more than we’re satisfied, anticipating rewards creates more response than when actually getting the reward. External triggers kickoff loops.
  • Small, unpredictable rewards elicit the highest rate of engagement (like gambling).
  • Understand the principles of persuasion to design the right experiences across devices.