In our previous post this month, we talked about usability – the importance of making sure your site is easy to use and navigate.

Just as important as usability is persuade-ability. Designing a persuasive site goes beyond making sure users have the ability to perform certain tasks. It involves creating a site that encourages them to perform those tasks.

Persuasive design expert Andrew Chak, in his oldie-but-a-goodie Submit Now, discusses one of the most important elements of persuasive design – ensuring that your site addresses customers at all phases of the buying cycle. Chak categorizes these folks as either browsers, evaluators, transactors, or customers.

Mega-retailer owes its huge success ($1 billion in 2008 sales) in part to how well it addresses these four unique audiences.

  • Zappos makes life easy for browsers by letting them sort shoes using a huge variety of filters – so you can view only wide shoes, for example, or animal print shoes, or Mary Jane-style shoes, or clog-style shoes with 2 ½ inch heels … you get the picture.
  • They help evaluators by providing detailed information about each shoe a customer is considering. You can view a pair a shoes from 8 different angles; find out if you should order your standard size, or a half-size up; review 8 to 12 additional specs about the shoe, such as weight and composition; and read extensive customer reviews (often as many as 60 or 70 per product).
  • They helps transactors by making the buying process simple – and the return process simpler, as Zappo’s loyal customers love to rave about.
  • Finally, Zappos helps customers with services like providing an online catalog of past orders, stretching years back – and sending personalized emails a year after your purchase asking if you’d like to order a fresh pair of the same shoes.

Many elements influence the persuasiveness of your site, but a good place to start is by asking this question: Is my site talking to my four critical customer groups?

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