Persuasive Web Design Explained - Filip Rastovic Blog

Persuasive Web Design Explained

After reading Robert B. Cialdini’s book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion my understanding of current web design trends broadened and in this article I’ll try to explain how I now interpret web advertising we see daily and reasons why marketers and designers follow these trends. I don’t want to get into the moral discussion of these techniques but to summarize the book and help creative professionals and small business learn how to get more clients and keep their precious independence.

Reviews – Social Proof

How many times have you opened a youtube video just to scroll down and read the comments before watching the video? Or asked a friend what his thoughts are about this new person you met recently? Same thing happens whenever we’re buying a product or a service, we’re interested if other
people are satisfied with it. Social proof is extremely important to all of us, even when we’re not buying something. That’s why social networks like Linkedin have a client reviews section, freelance marketplaces and all e-commerce stores. People love stories. Especially when they’re told by our peers – fellow customers. If you’re a small business owner or a freelancer, get your first client reviews as soon as possible and feature them on your resume or portfolio, because potential clients will be looking for them.

A testimonial example

Rule of Reciprocation

This comes down to our culture, we tend to return a favor. Marketers have figured this out and started offering
free material to people in order for you feel obliged to go with them. The other part of the puzzle is that people tend to be consistent, and tend to stick to their previous choices, thus staying with the product or service they’ve already invested time in, so marketers figured out if you invested some time in order to download a free template you will more likely come back and buy the premium template, and they were right, these things work.

Free templates offered by Hubspot which are pretty awesome if you ask me.


How to frame yourself as an authority with web design? Easy, list logos of your previous clients. You’ve probably seen all over the internet, people and companies tend to stick logos of their previous clients into their websites. Sometimes these logos have tremendous effects: “Omg! This guy worked with google!” or “This company is a google partner!! They must be experts”. It comes down to the figure of authority. Experiments showed that people are willing to torture others if a person in a lab coat tells them it’s okay, in the name of science. Here’s a video about it. The figure of authority has a tremendous effect when it comes down to persuasion.


Cialdini called this “Law of scarcity”. Experiments showed that people WANT items that are almost sold out. It makes people feel special
to have something that will soon be removed from the shelves, even if they’re not going to use it at all. Exclusive offers and discounts: how many times have you been to a website just to realize “Wow these guys always have a sale going on?” Marketers and salesmen call these things “Anchors”. The real value of the item they’re selling is actually the discounted value. The reason a bigger price is next to that value (crossed out) is that it works as an “anchor”. It makes the buyer compare the discounted price with it. A common example is this scenario: You enter a clothes store and tell the salesman you wish to buy a jacket. If he’s a persuasive seller, he first takes you to see the most expensive jacket in the store. If its price doesn’t work for you, he then takes you to see the less expensive jacket, and you automatically compare two prices. Which one are you going to buy? The cheaper one of course, the first one was much more expensive. Countdown timer, another trend in web design is used as a persuasive technique as well.

An example of using countdown timers and anchors in order to sell more, Udemy.

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