Monday, February 11, 2013

Take your Site to the Shrink

Survivial of the Fittest Website (3)

I am a human behavior research junkie; I love Psychology Today, scholarly journals, and the Healthy Living section of the Huffington Post. I like to know why people do what they do, or should I say the speculations, theories, and sometimes pure bull crap that claim to be why we do what we do.  Then I self diagnose, or email the articles to friends so they can self diagnose. So naturally one thing kept crossing my mind every time I was researching blog topics, and completing the group analytics project was: What efforts can be made to tap into innate human behavior to increase the effectiveness of a site, and what web analytics tools are being used to assess the validity of these efforts? At this point in my web analytics experience (a very novice level) I think I could figure it out. All that would need to be done is some research on human behavior (FUN!), assessing the site's core benefit proposition, the structure of the site, and some Google Analytics. 

My favorite theory is Evolutionary Psychology, and I am sure that Darwin would agree that a website's survival is based on its adaptability to change and evolution of website's goals; a web site must be flexible and change with the user (1).  Think of it this way, there's a money tree, all the leaves at the bottom have been eaten...Who is going to get the leaves at the top? Just, as the giraffes with the longest necks survived this dilemma, websites that can evolve with their customer's needs will survive as well. 


Alexander Dawson created something that made my heart pound! He converted Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs into the Hierarchy of Web User’s Needs. Truly outstanding. He claims that in order for a site to be successful it must tap into six different “user needs”. They are as follows:

1. Accessibility: The website can be found and used by all people.
2. Stability: The website is consistent and trustworthy.
3. Usability: The website is user-friendly.
4. Reliability: The website is consistently available, without downtime.
5. Functionality: The website offers content, tools and services users value.
6. Flexibility: The website adapts to needs and wants of users. (1)

 This pyramid stresses the importance of “giving your visitors a sense of growth and increasing their self-esteem”(1).  

Flexibility/Self Actualization + survival of the fittest = Amazing Profitable Website. 

 Moving beyond theories into the esthetic and visual elements of websites, how the mind analyzes the content and lay out may seem obvious; but it obviously isn’t, as there are still a lot of sites with issues.  I have been searching many websites lately for internships, and Diversity research papers to know that the “Contact Me”, “Careers”, and “Diversity” tabs are not always easy to find. Though the profiles of myself and other users are different, these buttons are a common place for visitors to start, or end; therefore, should be easy to find. The following are ways to bring attention so particular tabs, and the overall website.  

Color: The use of color us important in portraying the industry of your site. Research should be completed to find out what color scheme will best fit you intent. Check this out for the best color choices. .
Images:  Images capture visitor’s attentions. Quality images play a huge roll in the websites overall perceived quality.
Size: Links, buttons, and images should be of size that visitors can actually find them, and importantly should reflect your KBR’s. If you’re trying to increase conversion the “Contact” button should be big! And easily visible on the page, placement of the links are also important. 
Placement: Visitors will scan the page from left to right, therefore, seeing information on the left side of the page first. (2) 

As for the Google Analytic reports and KPI's that can test the site's behavioral structure would be the In-Page Analytics to see what tabs are being clicked on the most, and the Visitor's Flow to see how long it takes them to get to the desired place. Clickstream analysis, and bounce rate would also be great tools.

The moral of the story is this: If your site is not performing as you may hope, you can always take it to a shrink , or if you want I can send you some articles. 



  1. Great article! "Long neck giraffes", interesting. Keep sending away, my most trusted shrink :)

    1. Thanks Trina! You know how much I love Long Neck Giraffes!!

  2. Fantastic Article. We are in the process of revamping my company's website, and the pyramid is a great tool to make sure that we do it right! Working in the field that I do the contact button is probably the highest importance, as we want people to get on the phones with us and get in our door. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hope it was helps! I thought it was an amazing tool when I saw it! You should check out the other blogs from the class, they will be very helpful. Also try Google Analytics. It is so easy to use!

  3. Funny, you bring up Charles Darwin on his Birthday Feb 12 1809. As well, you bring in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in relation to a Website survival and adaptability. Cool article. Now, the question is there space for random section? :)

    1. I meant to say random selection..

    2. This was definitely my favorite article to write! It makes it mean even more that it was his birthday, I had no idea. I should have celebrated!! I am glad you like it =)

  4. This is fantastic! There is psychology of color, people, behavior. Why wouldn't we have psychology of websites! The heirachy of website users is a great help to my online presence & my own business website.

    Keep it are a great writer.

  5. This was absolutely interesting. Out of curiosity, do you agree with the arrangement of the pyramid? or do you feel the categories should be rearranged? It is definitely a useful tool. It just makes me wonder if it would change depending on the website. If some things are more important than others given the situation. Also, if other categories could be added based on the website. If it became a tool that was customized for each job it could be potentially more helpful, even more so than it is now. Then again having it be a simple framework has its benefits too. Your comparison to evolution is awesome. Thanks for the great post.

    1. Thanks you Kelsey! I do agree with you I think that each site has a purpose the the pyramid's structure could be redefined per their key business requirements. Such as e-commerce vs lead generating.