Website design affects shoppers on emotional level, according to SFU professor

Online shopper navigates fashion. Kendra Wong photo.

Online shopping is skyrocketing among Canadians and companies are increasingly using specific website design elements to appeal to consumers’ emotions and encourage shoppers to return to the site, said a SFU professor.

In a survey by Statistics Canada, Canadians ordered $18.9 billion worth of products online in 2012, up 24 per cent from 2010.

Website design has a huge impact on the loyalty of consumers, said Dianne Cyr, a professor at SFU who specializes in web design and emotions.

Website design tries to evoke emotion

“The website design is really the interface between the product and the customer when you’re shopping . . . because there is no sales person,” said Cyr. “The only way that emotions can be elicited from a consumer is by creating the experience on the interface that excites people, satisfies them or they feel enjoyment from the site.”

Websites trying to elicit emotion from shoppers will have attractive, visually appealing layouts with pictures of people, and some form of interactivity such as comment boxes that fill shoppers with a sense of enjoyment.

Companies will use cool colours, such as blue and green, to elicit feelings of trust.

Shoppers also feel satisfied if the website is organized and is easy to navigate through product information and the checkout.

Tammy Chan, a Coquitlam resident, spends approximately $200 to $400 a month online on clothing and makeup from stores including Old Navy, Forever 21 and Banana Republic.

Bigger inventory one reason to buy online

“They have more items online then they carry in store,” said Chan. “Usually they run out of my size or they don’t have a certain colour in store.”

She noted that her ability to navigate a website is a big factor in determining if she will return to the site.

“For example, Old Navy — their site is straight to the point,” said Chan. “Once you click on clearance, they show the products right away.”

Cyr said a website’s ability to evoke emotions will have huge implications for the company.

“If even a small number of people go back to a website and visit it in the future, over time it can dramatically increase revenue for the company,” Cyr said.

Reported by Kendra Wong

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