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Triggers and Stressors: Does Your Content Scare Your Customer’s Inner Caveman?

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Triggers and Stressors: Does Your Content Scare Your Customer’s Inner Caveman? on contentbacon.com

Does your website or app trigger an immediate response mechanism that’s built into our brains?

The psychology of persuasion would have you believe that website visitors are just a bunch of cavemen. Although there’s been evolution throughout the years, some things never change. And the one thing that pushes a lot of our buttons, is comfort.

We actually have an immediate response mechanism built into our brains that triggers adverse behavior. If websites don’t take the importance of a positive customer experience into account—boom! We’re on to the next landing page in no time.

I want to push that button

Comfort = control. It’s a simple equation that should be applied to the user experience you create for website visitors. And yes, that includes your mobile version and apps, too.

Here’s an example: Do you have video or audio that does the autoplay routine the instant a visitor lands on your homepage? You may have inadvertently pulled a trigger. Say your visitor navigated your website with the intention of reading; by hitting them with video or audio that plays automatically, well you may have pushed them right out of their comfort zone. Without even realizing it, the agitated visitor feels like they’ve lost control of the experience.

There’s no saber tooth tiger around, so the fight-or-flight response of the caveman days won’t kick in, but the feeling of frustration might. Sure, visitors can silence the unexpected video or audio, but they more or less lost control as soon as it started playing. The likelihood of leaving your site is higher than a quick tap on the “pause” button. That is, assuming you provide one.

What’s in it for me?

We’ve learned to expect things from certain situations. Visiting websites or using an app is no exception. If your content strays too far from a preconceived set of expectations, you’ll lose the visitor’s attention real fast. The part of the brain that’s been evolving since the days of the dinosaurs will report a loss of control. Say goodbye.

Provide people with the power of perceived control. It’s a fine line between looking and acting like everybody else, and well…looking and feeling like everybody else. The key is the freely given extension of expectation. Do you give app users and website visitors the power to do as they wish? You may have an objective determined by behavioral steps. If you don’t give visitors what they want, they will simply find it elsewhere.

Warning! Danger!

We are not just mildly annoyed by websites and apps that push us out of our comfort zone; our brains concoct a strong reaction. It’s because we’ve been cooking up these responses since T-Rex considered us as a food source. We got the last laugh—Rexy’s now part of our experience at the gas pump. But we’ve never gotten over the fear.

Anything we don’t expect = danger. This is another powerful equation that should determine your UX design. You may think it’s a silly exaggeration, but our brains will decide that a video on autoplay is just like a visit from a tyrannosaurus rex; it can trigger this automatic response.

Are we there yet?

You’re heading into the danger zone as soon as a visitor or app user starts to feel controlled. Some responses are automatic and immediate; others may take a bit longer.

Endless scrolling = fear. Roll your eyes if you wish, but our brains have been around longer than single page websites. Way back when, we started to feel some stress when we found ourselves on an unknown path. Use sticky navigation for your website. Visitors get a constant feeling of comfort and control—they’ll hang around.

I’m in charge here

The dinosaurs are gone. We traded caves for condos and single-family homes. Evolution has granted us control and we don’t (for the most part) run from things that are outside of our comfort zone. But even so, there are parts of our brains that will take a few thousand more years to catch up.

This inner caveman reaction is easy to prevent. We’ve invented language since the days when flocks of pterodactyls darkened the skies. Evolved website visitors and app users everywhere have communicated these three requests: don’t startle me, play by my rules, and keep me in control. Violate them and you might as well go dancing with the dinosaurs.

Feel like your company’s website could use some spiffing up? Contact us today and we will be more than happy to help pull your content out of the Stone Age!

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