3 must-haves for a user centric approach (and why chocolate matters)

February 15, 2021


In our recent audit of charity websites produced with interactive industry association BIMA, a full 39% of websites received a low grade for usability. A poor user experience creates all sorts of problems for website owners, from reducing visibility to putting off customers and damaging brand perception.  

Taking a user-centric approach to website design has the opposite effect. It increases engagement, dwell time, customer value and brand perception. There is a perception that applying a user-centric approach will increase the time and therefore cost of a website project. In our experience, this isn’t the case and with the right approach, you can better understand your users and create a great user experience that delivers a solid return on your investment.



Understanding the importance of a user-centric approach starts with a basic understanding of how the brain works.

When a relationship is formed, the brain produces Oxytocin. Oxytocin is the neurochemical associated with social bonding and emotion and is produced when we have a positive user experience (or when we eat pleasurable foods like chocolate). 

Before we talk about how to trigger Oxytocin in design, it is important to understand that a negative user experience can cause the brain to produce Cortisol which is the neurochemical associated with stress. Inducing stress within design can often be a successful principle in motivating users to act to avoid loss. However, its success is dependent on the user which is why it’s so important to understand your audience to inform the right balance. 


Here are our 3 must-haves for delivering for your website visitors:


1. Don’t Overload

A positive user experience is one that instils confidence and trust in the user. If a website has surface appeal; is easy to use and clear, this will motivate the user, demonstrate expertise and show that the brand will act in the user’s interest. 

Overloading the user causes cognitive strain which Increases critical thinking. Good usability considers how users consume information and ensures that the design accommodates memory limits to aid comprehension. This makes the user feel good and motivates them to act.


2. Know your audience and target them as personas

Beyond best practise, your approach should depend on your user, so it’s important to understand your audience to get this right. The users’ demographic, personality type, values, status, life experience and their needs will inform how best to optimise your design.

For example, an audience persona with a more conservative personality type might be more likely to respond to authoritative design patterns than someone who is less so and therefore might be more susceptible to less traditional design patterns.


3. Know your audiences’ context and when to deliver

A user-centric approach is also understanding the environment and situation a person is in and what they are trying to achieve. If we listen to what people need at specific interaction points with us, we can understand how to deliver a user-centric experience to our audience. Getting this right will trigger Oxytocin in your user and maximise a positive outcome for your business.

The benefits to users and organisations of getting it right

It’s important to remember that generating the right amount of oxytocin (and cortisol) depends on the user. Finding the right balance is achieved by understanding the core values and context of your audience and being there for them at the right time in a relevant way.

Having a stronger insight will allow you to get under the skin of the user and help your business to achieve the following goals more easily and more often:

  • Increased Engagement People will spend more time on your site, and will be more likely to engage with you on other channels
  • Higher Conversion Rates – Your users will be motivated to act on your proposition
  • Increased Loyalty – People will like you more, and are more likely to return to your website
  • Efficiency  Audiences will be better able to ‘self serve’ which means a reduced burden on company support

A user centric approach will inform lucrative and efficient decisions that will drive your ROI forward and reduce costs for your business.

If you’d like to talk to us about usability for your website, get in touch