The Psychology of Web Browsing

Posted on June 13, 2015

Photo: flickr

Who knows that website optimization, top-notch web teams might cause adverse behaviour from web visitors if they do not take psychology into account.

Humans want control of their surroundings, regardless of huge or minor issues. We crave control as it provides us with the comfort we seek for. When things feel out of control, our body responds with our subconscious flooding us with tension until we remedy the situation. This is innate in us, that we tend to react in the same manner when we lose control of a relationship or the buzzing of the phone, etc.
Corporate businesses with websites will benefit when they understand that the human need for control is a powerful tool for enhancing customer experience.

In a specific case scenario, a web psychologist studies ClickTale which is one of the world’s largest and most influential news organisation. Customers’ behaviours analysed on the website. The news organisation was trying to push video content by having it load automatically on their homepage.
The video was slick, well-designed and interesting. However, the organisation has not considered the aspect that the video content pops up at the screen while the visitor is trying to read the news. It causes the readers to feel that they have lost control.

When analysed, the web psychologist found visitors tend to click “pause” button most of the time. This allows customers to gain control. Albeit the interesting video content, the extensive efforts to push the video has triggered an adverse reaction. It increases the chances of visitors not watching the video and encouraging them to read the text located below the video instead.

This response is explained by the expectation factor. People expect to receive something specific in situations. Ie. You go to a party, expect to eat certain food and have a certain level of fun.

Hence, it is essential for business to realise that customers’ expect something when visiting a website. If you present your visitors with an experience that strays too far form what to be anticipated, it results in loss of control. They will perform actions like clicking pause on the video, existing the webpage or so to get the feeling of control back.

To understand perceived control, visitors have to think that they are in charge of their actions. Thus, enterprises have to be careful of automatic videos, long web pages that requires endless scrolling, slow-loading websites, all those factors that triggers stress.

Category(s):Stress Management

Source material from Psychology Today