Using Neuroscience to Build a Landing Page that Converts
Since eye tracking studies show that users scan websites from left to right in an F-like formation, it might seem sensible enough to put your CTA (Call To Action) button on the left side of your landing page But since the direction starts from the left but ends on the right, perhaps it is better off on the right side of the page.
We simply do not have enough information to make a well informed hypothesis. Lets turn our focus to studying that mystical revenue generating entity know as attention. When studying attention, it would be foolish to neglect the underlying neurological forces that govern it. Yet most marketers don't give enough of their own "Attention" (yes pun intended) to this matter.
Visual Attention is biased to the left or the right depending on the nature of the stimuli
Don't let your symmetrical good looks fool you. You may look symmetrical but behave very asymmetrically. Note that your right brain processes things that appear in your left field of vision and your left brain processes things that appear in your right field of vision.
This is where our behavioral asymmetries begin to emerge. We tend to give more attention to items that appear in our left visual field. A study on Visual Short-term Memory shows that subjects are better at remembering single-featured objects that appear on the left side of the monitor (Sheremata & Shomstein 2014). This effect is known as Left Visual Field Bias. However, subjects show a Right Visual Field Bias when given a more complex task of remembering objects with 2 features. In turns out that your right brain is great at intuitive, big picture, holistic, non-verbal thinking and your left brain excels at step-by-step, analytical, verbal processes.
#1 - How can I apply this?
In your landing page, place information that is meant to be processed holistically (i.e. graphics, photos, faces) on the left side and information that is meant to be more scrutinized (i.e. text such as taglines, slogans, bullet points, long text strings) on right side.
The Power of Faces
If asked what object we spend most of our lives looking at, the most probable answer would be faces. Driven by the evolutionary powers that be, humans rely on faces to recognize each other and read facial expressions to infer what someone might be thinking. This mind reading capability has taken us to the top of the food chain and you can bet that there is an area in the brain specialized for processing faces. Known as the fusiform face area (FFA), this neurological region is located in the temporal lobes and happens to be larger in the right hemisphere. Recall that the right hemisphere also processes objects that appear in the left visual field. Because face processing is more dominant in the right hemisphere, and the right hemisphere processes items in the left visual field, the mere presence of a face in the visual field causes attention to shift to the left visual field. This effect is known as a Left Visual Field Bias. (Hole & Bourne, 2010)
#2 - How can I apply this?
If you happen to have a face on your landing page, position key elements such as CTA on the left side .
The Power of Eyes
Have you noticed that humans are one of the few creatures that have the sclera (white part of the eye) exposed. The resulting visual cues from this exposure allows us to infer where someone is looking. This evolutionary advantage allowed humans to collectively respond to their environment by immediately alerting each other by a simple shift in a glance. Studies have also shown that whenever a set of eyes is present, subjects unconsciously can't help but attend to the direction of the gaze (Zhao & Zhang, 2009). In addition to these findings, we happen to be extremely accurate at calculating where someone is looking. Studies also show that subjects can accurately calculate the location, in 3D space, of where someone is looking (Truong, 2009)
#3 - How can I apply this?
Direct the user's attention even more powerfully by having a face gazed at the exact location of your CTA
The Power of Text
A phenomena known as the Stroop Effect shows how subjects, when given a task to simply identify the color used for each word, are faster for words in the left column and much slower for words in the right column.
The study shows that we are amazingly efficient when it comes to reading text, in fact, because we are so good at it, adding too much of it often leads to cognitive overload. So where and how should text be used? The most effective use of text is to determine a phrase that best describes the key benefit of your offering, place it within your CTA, and place your CTA in a location within your visual field that will command the most attention (i.e. right side since text processing is a left brain function, or left side if there happens to be a face on the page due to Left Visual Field Bias for face processing, or wherever the eyes of the face is gazed). In effect, you are funneling the innate super powers of text processing into the precious attentional spotlight of the CTA. The cognitive impact of this trifecta allows the user to unconsciously absorb the location and messaging of the CTA within milliseconds. It all comes down to reducing effort and friction on an unconscious scale.
It's ok to use long text in your CTA as long as it is all about the user
As demonstrated in a post by Kathryn Aragon, longer form text that focuses on user benefits such as "Sign up and reserve your spot today" is much more effective than shorter and meaningless words such as "Submit" or "Apply Now." Users have no problem reading long text as long as it makes them feel awesome. Laura Klien has demonstrated that users don't care about exploring your products, they care about themselves. The messaging of your copy should always focus NOT on the product features but on the benefits to the user. For example, in order to convey time and cost saving benefits on an auto insurance form, simply replace the "Apply Now" text on the submit button with "Get my free quote in 5 minutes."
#4 - How can I apply this?
Use text in your CTA to convey the benefits of your product to the user
The positive left brain and the negative right brain
Aside from being creative, the right brain also processes negative thoughts. This may explain why most art tends to be very depressing in nature. The left brain on the other hand handles happy thoughts. This is evidenced by past studies on patients with strokes. Strokes that impair the left brain leave patients more depressed because brain function resides in the depressing right brain, strokes that impair the right brain leave patients in a happier state because they rely more on the happier left brain (Kenworthy, 1992).
Attention is not enough, you have to invoke emotion
Invoking attention without emotion is the equivalent of mounting a red arm-flailing blow up man on your landing page.
#5 - How can I apply this?
Place positive items on the right side and negative items on the left side
Despite how much we have evolved, our unconscious sits in the driver seat influencing aspects of our behavior that continue to escape awareness. Your brain essentially has a mind of its own, two minds actually (one for each hemisphere). The next time you intend to market to the user, take a step in a neurological direction and market to the user's left and right hemispheres instead.
by Bao Truong Ph.D. Sr Marketing Engineer at RealtyMogul.com