The Psychology of Website Content

What do most of us want our websites to accomplish?

  1. Establish trust and confidence in order to
  2. Convert browsers into customers

So the biggest question we need to answer today is, how do we get the person who clicks on our website to go from merely curious to motivated?

Looking at Website Content through a Convenient Framework

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, offers a good framework to look at while thinking about the big picture of the psychology of your website content and how to build trust with your potential website customer in order to turn them into a paying customer. His pyramid states we need our bottom needs met before we can strive for the top.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Physiological needs:

Making sure basic physical needs are met by:

  • Make sure your website content is accessible.
  • Alt tags on photographs for screen readers.
  • Organization of material so it makes sense and reads easily. Most important information first and clearly prioritized (Hierarchy is important!)
  • “Chunk” information so it can be processed quickly and easily.
  • Tell what you do and what you offer within the first paragraph. (Assume your reader needs to be informed immediately).
  • Use the space “above the fold” wisely.

Safety Needs:

Building trust by:

  • Clear privacy policies and disclaimers
  • Speaking in an authentic voice
  • Using photos of yourself and your place of business instead of stock photos whenever possible.
  • Clearly showing where and how to contact you – and repeating this often if possible
  • Connecting your website content with your social channels
  • Consistently branding so your potential customer builds recognition and inherent trust.

Affiliation (Love & Belonging)

Building connection and belonging by:

  • Speaking to what you can offer the customer, not always how special you are (this is a fine line, you want to shine your light, of course, but the hero of your story should actually be your potential customer, with you being the coach or the mentor – think Yoda to Luke.  Yoda is still incredibly powerful, but it was Luke’s story).  ​
  • Photos of yourself, your team, events showing connections and possibilities of connecting. ​
  • Content that discloses personal details that you are comfortable sharing –  that allows the reader to connect with you in a meaningful way.  —  as is appropriate to your profession — 

Esteem Needs

Building a sense of respect and recognition of your potential customer by:

  • Sharing testimonials from other customers who think your and your business is fabulous- and sharing how fabulous those customers are if you are inclined​
  • Writing in a clear, simple style that does not talk down to your reader.  Have proofreaders- within and outside your field to catch if your content is too heavy in jargon or too casual.   ​
  • Minimum of site frustrations (ads, pop-ups, confusing layouts) – the clearer the design and the more intuitive the layout, the more free the customer will feel to stay, and the more respected they will feel as a consumer. 

Self-Actualization Needs:

Challenge your customers to take the next step:​ (Convert from a casual viewer or browser to an actual customer!)

  • Have one clear call to action per page and stick to it ​
  • Make sure your buttons support that call with something more than “click here” (that’s not very inspiring, and really not all that clear, when you get down to it).  Ask me for examples.  ​
  • Challenge your customers to want more, to want to perform better, to want to improve – because that’s what you are offering, isn’t it?  If your content is simply offering them exactly what they already have / already are, what really motivates them to contact you?  

More information

This is a version of a presentation given online during Digital Media Bootcamp conducted by TAGMultimedia on April 3, 2020. It ended on April 17, 2020.

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