Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion by Nathalie Nahai

In Webs of Influence: The psychology of online persuasion, Natalie Nahai does a great job of providing practical strategies for website design based on the science of behavior. She has taken ideas from a very wide range of sources and demonstrated what they might mean in the context of a website and online environment.

The book covers three overall themes and each theme takes a number of ideas from psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics and in short and easy to read chapters, shows real examples and case studies of how the idea can be implemented.

Webs of influenceIn discussing the theme of targeting, Natalie Nahai addresses the underlying structure of the brain, the psychology of decision-making, the reality of online demographics, cross-cultural differences and individual differences. I was particularly struck by the chapter on cross-cultural differences (which I include in one of TapestryWorks’ training workshops), as this is one of the few examples I have seen of taking Geert Hofstede’s (now six) cultural dimensions and really showing how you would design and communicate in different ways to address culturally different audiences.

In discussing persuasive communications, she covers Maslow’s hierarchy, basic issues of aesthetics and usability, images, videos and social media, with a good section on the use of colour too, another area of personal interest, Finally, in the section on selling with integrity, Natalie Nahai covers the basic principles of influence and how to apply them online. reputation, effective selling strategies, pricing and risk, trust and privacy.

Cialdini’s six principles of influence are covered in detail. For Reciprocity, Natalie Nahai suggests starting an exchange with visitors (i.e., give something away or make a concession), and for Authority bias showing your expertise and providing evidence, and for Scarcity, using countdowns and having flash sales (if you are using your website to sell something).

The book and its contents are well laid out, easy to read and reinforced with several nice graphics of key principles.. Natalie Nahai summarizes the book with three over-riding principles: know who you’re targeting, communicate persuasively and sell with integrity. If you want to know how to be more effective with your personal or business online presence, then this is great advice and Webs Of Influence is a recommended read. And if you want to know more, I can recommend listening to Natalie Nahai’s regular podcast as “The Web Psychologist” too.

Review for Asia Research by Neil Gains, TapestryWorks