In the sixth of our 12 days of LPO tips, SiteTuners takes you through how the brain works and what that means for your page.
Before we describe your page, let’s first take a look at the mechanism processing it. Well, the three of them, anyway.
The first thing you need to know is, the “triune brain theory” states that the archipallium, the reptilian brain, is obsessive. It is compulsive. It only cares about dangers, food, and items of interest. And most importantly, it’s in charge of what the two other brains will notice. The limbic system handles emotion, and while all three brains are active during most activities, it’s the emotional gut reactions that typically matter. The neocortex, which handles language, speech, and writing – these are all great for reading your page, except that first, your page needs to get the other two brains to pay attention.
What does that mean for your page?
1. Nobody reads it. The brains look for information related to the task by scanning, and the reptilian brain is in charge.
2. It’s used to accomplish a task. It is a sign post, not a book.
3. It needs to follow rules. The brain is efficient at filtering information, and conventions go a long way in ensuring it’s usable.
Usability and Your Page
Usability ensures that when the brain meets your page, your page can:
• Decrease the time required to finish tasks
• Reduce the number of mistakes
• Shorten learning time
• Improve satisfaction with your site
• This means that you need to treat your users like they won’t read, they are extremely impatient, and that they are not fully committed to using your site.
If Nobody Reads Your Page, Then …
You need to manage user attention. Your focus is helping the user finish his or her task; ideally, that matches up with your conversion goal. Well, goals.
The way user attention is managed usually deals with how the brain is geared to manage your eyes’ saccades (quick scans) and fixations (areas of focus).
• Visit irregular shapes before regular shapes
• Visit larger objects before smaller
• Can’t help but look at faces
Use these to help direct user attention to key tasks.
What the Brain Needs
You need to be cognizant of how heavy your page elements are for the brain to process. That means you need to deal with:
Cognitive load – you need to create groups that make sense, and provide a consistent experience on the web site.
Visual load – the pages need to make the important navigation elements available without the user needing to scroll.
Memory load – the pages need to be tolerant of mistakes. The pages need have elements that allow users to always know where they are on the site.
Next: “Prioritize Your Tests and Design for Maximum Impact.” SiteTuners covers tests and tuning for your pages.