Use psychology in conversion rate optimization

Psychology can turn interactive media into a powerful persuasive tool.

You can apply psychological principles to your website in:

  • Digital strategy.
  • Structures and layout.
  • Content development and creation.
  • Processes and user flows.
  • UI elements.
  • Visual design.

Common elements of CRO design

There are some common perspectives used to create conversion-oriented websites:

  • Psychological: Using how people feel and think on a conceptual level to predict behaviors. Evaluating a landing page from a psychological perspective may focus on users feeling confident, anticipating a reward, or boosting self-efficacy.
  • Neurological: Focuses on the complex mechanisms that drive behavior through emotions. Evaluating a landing page from a neurological perspective may focus on what triggers the rewards system, and whether the user has a fight or flight reaction.
  • Industry standards: Uses principles that industry experts have empirically determined to work within context over years or decades of experience. Evaluating a landing page from an industry standards perspective may focus on the presence of a value proposition, social proof, or sufficient product benefits and features.

The CugelGaard system

Developed by behavioral psychologist Brian Cugelman and conversion designer Michael Aagaard, the CugelGaard system is designed for industry applications. This system focuses on the fewest, most high-impact principles of CRO design that are easy to identify and apply.


Analyze your conversion-focused pages using the Audience-Influence model and Cugelman Emotion Map. Edit them to improve issues that you discover.

Chart standard visitor journeys through your website and develop visual and language cues to help users navigate.

Add trust elements and scarcity motivators to your product pages. Tweak product copy to provide a mental picture of the product.

Design better processes to increase conversion and minimize process abandonment.

Apply psychological concepts to your UI to optimize conversion.

This hub is too big and unwieldy at the moment. We need to step away from closely following the course structure – which is very theory based – and think about how to turn this content into action based steps that people can easily follow.

You’ve pulled a lot of theory from the course into pseudo-steps in playbooks, like this:

That isn’t an action; it’s an excuse to add information about the AIM. I understand the impulse here, but it’s not what playbooks are designed for.

Phase 1: Remove the bloat from this hub, so we can move on to edit it properly.

How we do it:

  • Combine Measure behavior change outcomes and Analyze copy through emotional motivators playbooks
  • Combine Create intuitive virtual processes and Analyze digital locators and facilitators playbooks
  • Turn each of the Behavioral UI concepts into a step in a behavioral UI playbook, instead of a playbook of their own. Find the key actionable information in each Behavioral UI lesson. Find information that backs up the actionable information. If you have extra information that you think is really interesting and should be included, put it into a [details] section under the step.

Example of taking out the theory and only keeping action steps

See how we can cut 17 steps into 5 by focusing on the key actions, rather than worrying about whether we’ve shoved in all the information that we could possibly have? If non-action information is important, make sure it’s available in a step that’s associated with it. If there’s no step that fits, stop and think.

That means either:

  • There’s a step missing, because the information would help the reader complete an action we haven’t told them to do.
  • The information isn’t actually that important, because it doesn’t help someone complete a step well.
  • You’ve misunderstood the information or one of the steps, because it does actually fit somewhere, but you don’t know where.

If step information is getting too much, think about whether to cut it down or add excess to a [details] section that people can look at if they’re really interested in this topic.

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@hesh_fekry I’ve finally finished with this one. I think. This was really twisty and difficult to edit down – lots of repeated concepts and examples.

Can I get you to have a close read through it and see how it all hangs together now?

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Thanks @naomi_kramer I think you did a great job here.

We can always adjust accordingly if the students/users have questions :slight_smile: Thank you for the effort on this one.

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