When Pavlov rang his bell, his dog would salivate regardless of whether or not he could smell food. Humans, surely, could never be so easily manipulated.
Except they are, on a global scale. Every day over a billion users stalk on their friends on Facebook, natter about their breakfasts on Twitter, and push their virtual shopping carts down Amazon’s virtual aisles.
These big sites and many others like them have invested huge amounts of resources into ensuring their sites are optimised for maximum efficiency. Controlling the user through psychology is just one of several techniques deployed by social networks to sap your time, and by commerce sites to lighten your purse.
Through the use of visual and mental cues, websites can have a big influence on user behaviour. These goes far beyond how a website makes the user ‘feel’, as they strive to dominate the user beyond their time on the site. By planting the seeds with interesting content they can ensure the user will come back for more.
Take these techniques we have compiled here, become aware of what’s being used to target you, and use them to target others.