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Why Expectation Factors Could Be Ruining Your Conversions

Right now there are thousands upon thousands of websites that are scaring away customers and losing out on conversions. In many cases, that conversion loss happens on a subconscious level and could be avoided if you understood more about expectation factors. Many of the top web development companies know why expectation factors could be ruining your conversions and today we are going to share this wisdom with you.

Fight or flight takes place online too

Being human has a lot of advantages and a few drawbacks. Take our hardwired ‘fight or flight response’ as an example of something that is usually an advantage. This physiological reaction occurs in response to things we perceive to be harmful, an attack or a threat often giving us a boost of adrenaline, increasing our heart rate and allowing increased air flow in the lungs.

On the other hand, stress and anxiety can also trigger similar responses in the body, even if something shouldn’t really be considered that stressful and you took the time to consider it rationally. But it has been proven that chronic or repetitive stress, or repeated exposure to those stress causing factors can trigger the fight-or-flight response.

This is an important concept to understand because stress and anxiety triggers exist online and unknowingly using them could be scaring away your customers.

The Expectation Factor and being in control

For the most part as humans we want to be in control. While there are many factors beyond our control, we still want to exert control over our lives as much as possible because it helps make us feel safe and secure.

Then you have the Expectation Factor which is a psychological effect related to the natural expectation anyone has as they enter a certain situation. If you go to a sports bar you expect to find beer, bar food and sports on TV. These are things that are expected and anticipated.

However when any situation fails to live up to the Expectation Factor then the person in that situation is suddenly faced with a loss of control. That loss of control can affect people in different ways and in some it creates stress. For example, if that Sports Bar had no TVs, only served organic teas and farm-to-table food, it is not meeting expectations.

Not meeting expectations

Here is where things get interesting. Certain design elements of your website can actually cause much more harm than good because they don’t live up to the expectation factor for a visitor. A good example is auto-play videos that are either embedded in a story or in the ad space on the side of webpage.

A visitor goes to a site to learn about something, often with the anticipation of calmly reading an article or blog. Instead when the page loads they are greeted with a video they weren’t expecting. It can be even worse if sound is enabled and they have the volume up.

This creates a natural response to stress much like fight-or-flight because there is a surprise factor that occurs. Most of the time we need to eliminate the thing causing the stress or get away from it. On top of that, being humans we need to rationalize and understand what we did to justify it.

For example, if we pause or stop a video, in many instances we act angered or affronted. “I didn’t ask to be interrupted by that video.” Or we might think that obviously the video wasn’t worth watching because we stopped it. If it wasn’t able to hook me in the 3 seconds it took to find the pause button then it’s not interesting enough to resume.

Common stress factors can include:

  • Feeling lost – This occurs on pages that are very long that involve a lot of scrolling. It can also happen when navigation buttons and cues are not apparent and user-intuitive.
  • Surprise – Pop-up ads are the easiest example to use because they unexpectedly will surprise us and trigger an emotional response often of anger or annoyance.
  • Confusion – When sites don’t have clear Call-to-action buttons, straight forward checkout options or other areas that can cause confusion the natural response is stress. Or if the ‘pause’ button for an auto-play video is hard to find. People do not like to feel like they don’t understand how to do something which often results in, “This is stupid,” responses because obviously they aren’t stupid so the site is at fault, often rightfully so.

The bottom line

In the big scheme of things is there really much of a difference in having an auto-play video versus allowing a user to click on it to start? For the business the answer is no, but to the visitor the answer is yes. Whether you are developing a website or even an app one of the key factors should be the user experience and part of that should involve not causing any stress to your visitors.

Those visitors, after all, did not come to your site or download your app looking for or expecting to be surprised, annoyed or confused; that is why expectation factors could be ruining your conversions if your are inadvertently causing stress based on design choices.

Be sure to check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for great new Lounge Lizard blog articles.



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