Full day training course

Persuasive Web Design

Convince people to stay on your site, believe it, and take desirable actions

Users judge websites in a fraction of a second and their decision-making is largely controlled by unconscious thought, not logic. Much of what influences users to take desirable actions is not as clear-cut as we would like to think.

Focusing on branding, design, and usability is only the starting point. Understanding the psychology behind motivation and action and how to incorporate that into web experiences and your design process can take your site to the next level.

"Fantastic information and insights. Was able to make some tweaks to my site during the lunch break based on what I learnt and saw. An immediate impact by the end of the day."

Nichola Wilkinson
Rift Accounting

Topics Covered

Topics Covered

  • Trust: Good news and bad news
  • 11 tips for boosting credibility via text presentation, complexity, ceding control to users and pacing requests
  • How to measure and test for credibility and avoid fruitless surveys
  • Human behavior
    • Kahneman's System 1 and 2
    • Cognitive ease and cognitive strain
    • Human automaticity
    • Cognitive biases: Priming, anchoring, framing
    • Judgmental heuristics
    • How pre-attentive processing informs users' stay or go decisions
  • Influencing principles
    • Reciprocity
    • Commitment and consistency
    • Social proof
    • Liking
    • Authority
    • Scarcity
  • Persuading people to visit your site
    • SEO
    • Searching behavior
    • Email
    • Brand awareness
  • Persuading people to stay on your site
    • Avoid scaring people away with auto-play
    • Tune visual appearance and eliminate surprises
    • Use contextual imagery to help people imagine how a product works or can benefit them
    • Provide and position expected content where people expect to find it (logo, prices, taglines, availability, etc.)
    • Offer deeper content and features like reviews, advice, quoting, and tracking
    • Expand and expose content to encourage browsing
    • Allay fears and predict the questions that people need to get answered (compatibility, cost, savings, fees, appropriateness, etc.)
    • Ease decision-making by incorporating Decision Architecture techniques 
    • Use gentle nudges to encourage conversion
    • Remove obstacles to facilitate conversions
    • Use associative imagery to accurately reflect what you do/offer/sell
    • Understand how image subject-matter can impact users' interpretation of need (specific to philanthropic sites)
  • Rethinking design method and philosophy to better match the way real users behave



The course is mainly in lecture format with a couple of group exercises to reinforce the learned principles and guidelines.

The course also includes:

  • Findings from our own usability studies, including eyetracking
  • Videos from usability testing of people's behavior in response to a design
  • Screenshots of designs that work and don’t work, and why
  • Opportunities to ask questions and get answers

Participant Comments

Participant Comments

"Found the lecturer excellent in delivery of the course content. The structure and content of the slides is organised in easy to follow fashion and found it very understandable. Straight to the point. Many real-life examples using known sites."

Astrid Tomac, Fleetmatics, Ireland

"Very practical course on how to influence users in the right way. I left with a ton of ideas on things to test and change on my site when I get back."

Melissa Jones, Glasses.com

"This was a very helpful course. As a designer for an ecommerce site, this will definitely help me make changes to increase conversion."

Danielle Paff, Taylor Corporation

  • More Participant Comments
    "Loved the mix of theory and practical application so I can put these concepts to work on my own site."

    Natalie Webster, Children's Hospital Assoc.

    "This session was fantastic! Katie was clear and engaging and she presented material that was well grounded in research, but still directly applicable to my work. We covered a lot of ground, but I'm not overwhelmed by the information."

    Christopher Burdick, Moody Radio

    "Shows how these methods can be a very powerful delivery tool, eg gamefication."

    Paul Gillespie, Standard Life

    "Compelling, comprehensive information — Katie is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on persuasive web design techniques and research."

    Morgan Huff, VCU

    "Great examples (visuals) and case studies to support theories."

    Shaun Myles, Influence Catalyst

    "Katie delived a well-rounded course with interesting tasks and backed-up by well done videos. Definitely recommended!"

    Monica Kars, SRC

    "This course was great. It covered many different attributes of persuasive web design and the course overall was very engaging and all of the examples were easy to understand."

    Amy Padres, Simpleview, Inc.

    "Loved this course! Indispensible if you're doing any kind of e-commerce."

    Gabirel Marley, Build Direct

    ""Loved this! Was a lot of material, Katie is a rock star covering it all! Great tips & vocab you will be able to take back & use right away not only to persuade externally but internally as well."

    Iris Mack, Penn Medicine

    "Great overview of the way behavioral science affects human decision making when it comes to web use."

    Ksenia Arie, Red Brick Health

    "While I'm not in UX, this class is very helpful to me as a person in SEO. Search engines highly value good user experience, so that means I do as well!"

    Tracy LeGaut, Simpleview

    "Fast paced, rich of valuable content, engaging teacher with lots of cool tips."

    Daniela Penati, John Muir Health

    "I really enjoyed the instructor. I felt that she was very knowledgeable. This course was really interesting, I learned so much. What's interesting is that I've learned more than just about people and websites, but about people's behaviors in general."

    Marcus Davis, Northrop Grumman

    "I was pleasantly surprised this course was rooted in behavioral economics/psychology. It's an often implied part of design & UX."

    Devin Brown, Audience Partners

    "Katie did a terrific job presenting facts and insights supported by research, and then applying that to our own design and products."

    Emily Schepp, Giant Creative Agency

    "Like a knife sharpener for dull websites! These guidelines will make all your projects sharper."

    Bridgette Huff, United Network for Organ Saving



Katie Sherwin

Katie Sherwin is a User Experience Specialist with Nielsen Norman Group. She specializes in helping organizations utilize principles of user-centered design and strategic communication to achieve their goals. Read more about Katie

Therese Fessenden

Therese Fessenden is a User Experience Specialist with Nielsen Norman Group. Prior to joining NN/g, Therese was a user experience consultant at Microsoft, designing and auditing the user experience of the intranets, Windows applications, and SharePoint sites for Fortune 500 corporations. While pursuing her graduate degree, she worked as a freelance web designer, focusing on responsive web design for small- to medium-sized businesses. Her experience with varying industries and types of clients lends to a unique perspective of how user experience research can better inform design decisions. Read more about Therese.