Why UX needs neuroscience
Businesses rely more and more on experimentation to build their marketing strategies. Experimentation is a powerful way to gather objective and reliable data, and make informed decisions. This can be achieved with UX or A/B tests. In this post we explain why and how neuroscience can boost the efficiency of UX tests.
UX TESTS & EXPERIMENTATION
UX (User eXperience) tests usually look like A/B tests. Typically, after alternative versions (A, B, n…) of a webpage, a product, or a message are designed their impact towards users are measured in normal use conditions. This procedure brings real informational value compared to the subjective verbal statements of traditional user studies.
UX and A/B tests provide a direct assessment of consumers’ behaviours and decisions. It is then likely that prior knowledge about consumers’ psychology and decision mechanisms can improve UX tests’ performance.
Prior knowledge about consumers’ psychology and decision mechanisms can improve UX tests’ performance Click To Tweet
UX: A STORY OF PEUGEOT AND RENAULT
Let us focus on an example to help you understand. Imagine that you are the head of marketing of a car retail company. You would like to change your website’s landing page as well as the cover page of your brochure. Photos of Renault or Peugeot cars are available. You thus perform A/B consumer tests to determine which photo generates the best impact on your customers. That impact can be measured by the proportion of online visitors entering your website, conversion rate, profits, the proportion of people asking for more information, or customer perception of quality or reliability.
Results are there! Your performance reaches 70% when a Peugeot car is displayed vs. 30% for Renault. Conclusion: Peugeot has a better impact on customers than Renault.
But there is something that our head of marketing does not know. A photo of a Mercedes-Benz car would have had an even higher impact on customers. Perception of quality and reliability would have jumped from 70% (for Peugeot) to 85% for Mercedes-Benz when all photos are compared altogether. A benefit of 15%!
Let us sum up. User eXperience (UX) can be considered as the experimental comparison between Peugeot and Renault. The neuroscience touch would be the addition of Mercedes-Benz. Using neuroscience, one can anticipate consumers’ psychology, then add alternative options with a predictable impact to A/B and UX tests. In the case displayed here, Mercedes-Benz is expected to have a higher impact than the two French brands, thus adding value to the UX test.
Neuroscience can help anticipate consumers’ psychology and add alternative options with a predictable impact to A/B and UX tests Click To Tweet
A/B TESTS & PACKAGING
Let us consider as an example a brand of sweets that renews its packaging. Its marketers have performed a consumer test. The effect of several versions of a chocolate bar’s package has been assessed. On some packages, the logo is displayed at the bottom. For others it is on the top. Packages’ backgrounds show different colours. Nutritional specifications are shown on one side or on the back. The ‘Organic’ logo has a small or big size… Consumer tests will undoubtfully identify the more effective package. That is to say, one package that generates stronger preferences and higher purchase intentions than the others.
But neuroscience could boost the efficiency of this test. How? By reducing the number of alternative packages tested to those that are expected to affect consumers the most. Back to the chocolate bars. Scientific studies have shown that a vertical symmetry axis catches people’s attention less than an asymmetric design. An asymmetrical design could thus impact customers more positively.
UX: IDENTIFYING THE CAUSES OF PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOUR
The second benefit of applying neuroscience to UX tests lies in the interpretation of experimentation’s outcomes. Often, the different options assessed in a UX test are created and selected following designers’ intuition. Unfortunately, UX tests rarely enable the identification of what causes the obtained results. This is where neuroscience and consumer psychology bring added value to UX tests.
Neuroscience brings meaning where UX tests highlight simple correlations. Understanding the psychological causes of the higher impact of a given landing page has benefits. Using moderating variables for instance (see the corresponding post here), enables us to develop an evidence- and data-based conceptual framework that is potentially generalizable to other contexts.
Let us return to the chocolate bar example. Unfortunately, after launching the new asymmetric packaging, sales have dropped by 10%. To understand why, neuroscience can be helpful. Asymmetric packages indeed catches people’s attention more. Yet, they are also considered as harder to read by customers. The chocolate bar is also perceived as a low-quality product when inside an asymmetric package. This understanding of customers’ perceptions and what causes purchase behaviours will no doubt help the brand to further adjust its product and marketing strategy.
By anticipating how alternative marketing options affect consumers’ psychology and behaviour, neuroscience brings added value to UX tests. This is a powerful tool to help make informed product and marketing decisions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A former academic and behavioural sciences expert, Dr Morgan David is the founder and director of ANALYTICA, a consultancy agency based in the UK and in France. ANALYTICA uses the way our brain works to design better products and better services in the realm of neuromarketing, webmarketing, customer experience, sales strategy and pricing tactics. ANALYTICA created CogniSales, a neuromarketing sales service, CogniMenu, the first new-generation menu engineering service, Predicta Sports, a science-based talent identification tool for predictive recruitment in sports, and the neuromarketing service applied to packaging CogniPackaging.