What is Social Proof?
Social proof (sometimes referred to as “informational social influence”) refers to the tendency of human beings to follow the actions of others when making decisions, placing weight on these actions to assume “the correct decision.” Social proof can be used to deliver credibility to prospective users and promote adoption or acceptance in the design of products and services.
The understanding that people are influenced by other people’s actions is well established and has seen extensive, profitable use in human history. It has led to the incorporation of social proof in the user experience of many websites and applications and in the real world. While the implementation of social proof remains ubiquitous—visible, for example, at the level of seating restaurant patrons by windows—perhaps the most famous examples are the star ratings on Amazon and eBay, and the reviews of products and sellers on these sites. Highly rated and highly recommended products (and sellers) are more likely to be successful than those with poor or no ratings.
Social proof is used for two reasons in user experience design:
- To deliver credibility. If other people find a source useful or credible, we are more likely to believe that source may useful or credible for ourselves.
- To promote adoption and/or acceptance. Volumes of people subscribing to a Facebook page or Twitter feed can encourage others to do the same. Seeing large numbers of people doing something is a psychological indicator to people that they should do the same thing.
Timeless, the power of social proof is undeniable. However, designers must consider the implications it involves. For example, while an organization’s Facebook page may show 10,000 likes, the power of social proof will only be evident if a high rate of engagement with those who like the page is evident.
Literature on Social Proof
Here’s the entire UX literature on Social Proof by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Learn more about Social Proof
Take a deep dive into Social Proof with our course Psychology of E-Commerce: How to Sell Online .
“Customer engagement is the direct route to every important business objective. It’s the pathway to everything good that a business could want.”
— Customer Experience expert Micah Solomon in Forbes
Online competition is fiercer than ever—and if you want to create a website that outperforms industry benchmarks in a big way, it’s vital that you know how to utilize your design skills to keep users engaged. The more engaged users are, the more likely they are to turn into paying customers—people who will buy your products and services time and time again, remain loyal, and ultimately become ambassadors for your brand both on- and offline.
Executing e-commerce successfully isn't easy: 69% of users abandon their shopping carts before checking out, according to Baymard Institute, a UK-based web usability research organization. That’s quite scary; what about the good news? Well, Baymard also found that many of the problems with e-commerce are solvable with changes to design.
There are many factors in designing great e-commerce experiences. You must know how to capture someone’s attention and present your goods and services in the optimal way. If you want customers who are committed, you’ll have to tell engaging stories and know how to build a long-term relationship.
In order to do all that, you will need to acquire and apply knowledge in human psychology. If you understand how your customers think, you can design for their needs. This course is based on tried and tested psychological techniques that bring together content and design so as to deliver hands-on advice for how to improve your web design and increase your customer engagement.
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