This week, I finished the rest of the second course as well as the whole third and fourth (final) courses of the Psychology Foundations track.

Cognitive Load

Dooley explained here how cognitive load makes things harder for your potential customer. For example, if you use rotating carousels that rotate too quickly on your website, you make it harder for them to learn about your product. Minimizing cognitive load is important so that you can retain the user’s attention and therefore increase the likelihood of a conversion.

How Distracting are Banner Advertisements on Home Pages? A Case Study

This lesson talked about a study that attempts to get actual data on how distracting ads can be. The results were that advertisements on the homepage can hinder a visitor’s understanding of what is being offered. This means that the less clutter there is, the better.

Visual Cue Case Study: Lead Generation Form on a Landing Page

The study in this lesson attempted to answer the question: Are some visual cues more effective than others? The variation of an arrow had the best performance for this study, while the variation of a human looking away had the worst performance with regards to how much a user pays attention to the form. It would seem then that some visual cues are more effective than others.

Eye Gaze Patterns

This video lesson by Sophia Eng talked about how eye gaze patterns are affected by the difficulty of the task. It is important for a website to be as simple as possible and for the user to be able to finish the task as quickly as possible. I had trouble understanding this lesson, but maybe it’s because I’m the type who reads versus watches. I also did not like that she was not looking at the camera because it was distracting for me.

Understanding Online Reading Patterns

This was another video lesson by Eng, this time about the 3 most common online reading patterns, evidenced by eyetracking studies. These online reading patterns depend on what the task is at hand. The key takeaway for me was that content should be scannable. This time I understood the lesson better.

Case Study: Online Reading Patterns

The lesson was about a study conducted to answer the following:

  • How are online articles read?
  • How much of the article gets read?
  • Do people read image captions?
  • Do older internet users read articles the same way younger users do?

The results were interesting. For example, both younger and older users viewed the first half of the article for the longest amount of time, indicating that the beginning of your content is usually the most important when it comes to grabbing attention.

User Reading Patterns of the New York Times – 2004 vs. 2016

The study featured in this lesson replicated a 2004 study to find out what were the ‘priority viewing areas’ for how people process a news site as well as if ‘today’s users’ process the contemporary design differently than in 2004. It turned out that the priority viewing areas did not differ much in both studies. The center and upper left of the page have more immediate prominence. Moreover, the study found that “the large banner ads in the 2016 variation made users jump around the page, causing way more variability in what people read compared to the 2004 version”.

Decision Making and Emotions

In this course, Bart Schutz helps us identify and understand the decisions users make on our sites.

4 Factors that Influence Decision Making

This lesson started off by explaining that behavioral science suggests our decision-making process is a lot more fueled by emotions than the rational part of our brain. It then went on to explain four chief mental processes that influence decisions:

  1. Cognitive Biases;
  2. Memories;
  3. Reason; and
  4. Emotions.

Persuasive Journey Mapping

This lesson featured Bart Schutz’s talk at the ConversionXL Live 2016 Conference. It focused mainly on the duality of our brains. He called them System 1 and System 2. He gave tons of examples, helping explain the concepts very well. It got technical towards the end which I had some trouble understanding. I liked how he ended the talk by saying we should not be unethical with such information.

Master the Moment of Decision Using Applied Neuroscience Methods for Measuring Attention, Emotion & Memory – Karsten Lund

This lesson featured Karsten Lund’s talk at Elite Camp 2016. It was about how attention, emotion, and memory combine to affect our decision-making. Just like Schutz he gave plenty of examples. I particularly liked how as it ended there was a comparison of two commercials, the Volkswagen commercial with the kid in Darth Vader costume and the Evian commercial where people dance to reflections of their baby selves. When he asked the audience which they thought was the successful one (the other was apparently a failed one), I immediately knew it was the Volkswagen one because I had watched it before.

Learning and Memory

In this course, Laja explains three different methods of learning and the key mechanisms involved in memory.

Psychology of Learning

This lesson talked about classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. All three were interesting to learn about. There was a quiz by the end with 3 questions. I was no longer as nervous about taking a quiz this time around and I’m glad I passed 100%.

Psychology of Memory

This lesson was about the three major processes involved in memory: encoding, storage, and retrieval and how such are applied to online marketing. Through experimentation, surveys, and user testing, we can determine if our marketing was effective when, for example, users were able to recall specific product details.

I am beginning to see common patterns throughout the courses. For example, that we make decisions based on the emotional brain is repeated quite often. This makes me realize this is something fundamental in this course.

Just like last week, I learned a lot. I feel grateful for the chance to do this Minidegree.

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