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The Science Behind Website Conversions

If you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage then this article is for you.

During our continued CRO research we’ve been reviewing people and psychology to see how website experience is molded off people’s behavior. There’s much to digest and learn as there are multiple in-depth studies that have to do with neuroscience and websites. It’s all connected!

Just like how we’ve been trained to read from left to right, people do the same on your website. But furthermore, how do people actually come to a decision when they’re on your site? Sure you can have the best website in terms of UX/UI but if you’re not communicating logic and emotion then your conversions are going to suffer.

So I’m going to share with you two things. The first is how people make decisions and the second is how this correlates with the design of your website since it’s all connected. Nothing is separate from each other.

If you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage then this article is for you.

Let’s begin.

Is Emotion Necessary To Make More Sales?

People make decisions based on both emotion and logic. The emotional side of people’s decision-making usually wins, but people justify their decisions rationally.

“Most neuroscientists agree that well over 90% of our behavior is generated outside of consciousness, We are more slaves to our biology than we realize. Our rational minds represent a very small layer floating atop a vast well of unconscious drivers.” – CXL Institute

The goal is to understand biological programming and once you do you can leverage it for great advantage over your competitors.

Decision-making is not logical!

My further studies into neuroscience brought me to read about Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, and his groundbreaking discovery with people who had damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated.

His findings concluded that while these people seemed normal they all had something in common: they couldn’t make decisions!

These people could describe what they should be doing in logical terms but they found it very difficult to make decisions. With no rational way to decide, these test subjects were unable to come up with an answer to what they wanted. So with that said, emotions play a crucial role in decision making and in fact, with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably ALWAYS based on emotion.

Pretty shocking right? That means you can’t have one without the other. Decision-making is based on both logic and emotion.

And this goes back to the conversion formula of how you write compelling sales copy; first, you touch on their motivations for searching or wanting something, then you share the value of your product or service (logical), and then address their anxieties (what scares them from taking action).

You use this formula to address both emotional and logical triggers on your sales page in order to help aid the user in making a decision. If you’re missing one of these logical or emotional triggers then you’re probably not going to be seeing great results on your website.

And that brings me to the next piece. Once someone is on your website how do they view it? How do you set up your page to make sure the most crucial information is seen and displayed correctly? Let’s review that.

How People View Websites

When someone lands on your site, studies have found through eye-tracking where the most attention lands. According to a Poynter study, these are the areas that get the most attention. 

It’s recommended that you check your site ‘above the fold’ and see what you have in these three zones. I would move your value proposition to the top left to get the most exposure. Of course, there are exceptions but I would use this as a starting point and test from there.

Note: Remember visual hierarchy!

People read from left to right and then back down to the left. In this Gutenberg diagram we show the pattern in what eyes move through when looking at (typically text heavy) content. This fits the zoning conclusion which you saw above pretty well.

This now brings me to the next big point that people read in F-patterns.

People Read in F-patterns

A 2008 study from Nielsen Norman Group found that on the average web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.

Ouch… This means your headlines and subheadlines need to be strategically placed. Take a look at this eye-tracking visualization showing the F-pattern in action…

You lose a significant amount of users as they read down the page. This is further evidence that you want your value proposition at the top and why your menu should be either top horizontal or on the left, vertical.

In addition, web users spend 69% of their time viewing the left half of the page and 30% viewing the right half. A conventional website layout is thus more likely to make your site more profitable.

These studies truly give you a greater understanding of why websites are built the way they are and how conversions increase or decrease based on the usability of the site.


When you’re optimizing a site for conversions there are many things you need to consider.

Logic, emotion, and usability.

Ask yourself these questions when you are looking to optimize your website or a clients website:

  1. Are the most important elements of this website within the Gutenberg diagram of eye-tracking?
  2. Does this site follow visual hierarchy guidelines?
  3. Does this site have copy that focuses on user motivation, value, and anxiety?

Just these three questions will help you optimize your site whether you’re a beginner or expert.

Final Statement

If you want to build a powerfully successful CRO program within your business reach out to us for a free consultation. We’ll see how we can help you achieve your business goals through CRO!

I’ll see you in the next blog post and happy optimizing!

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