Hello, this is Brian Lewis. Today we’re gonna be talking about interaction costs. What are interaction costs? Well, it’s not something you buy with cash or credit card and it’s not even a web design or marketing cost.
Instead, interaction costs are what your web visitors are paying in terms of their effort, every time they visit your website. And since costs are generally not a desirable thing, we want to try to minimize those costs of the interaction.
Three Types of Website Interaction Costs
When a visitor lands on your website, there’s three different types of interaction cost that they’re going to be incurring or three different types of effort that you’re going to be asking your web visitors to incur.
The first one is cognitive, next would be visual, and then the last one is physical. Let’s talk about each of these three in detail.
1. Cognitive Interaction Cost
The first interaction cost, cognitive, is asking your visitors to have to think, to use their brain. Now visitors typically have a lot of things going on and they’re looking for the simplest way to accomplish their means and their means may be research, may be buying a product may be filling out a form, but they’re looking for the easiest path to that.
So, we want to reduce the cognitive effort on visitors by making the visit experience as simple as possible and the one way we can do that or various ways we can do that is to follow clear and logical architecture, clear messaging, and a very strong information scent.
And what information scent means is that, think of when animals are hunting in the wild, and they’re looking for the scent of their prey. Well, what visitors are doing something similar. When they land on your site, they’re looking for an information scent that’s going to tell them what that page is about and what path they should go down to find the information they need, so those are all the ways that we want to think about how we can reduce the interaction cost, the cognitive interaction cost.
2. Visual Interaction Cost
A second interaction cost would then be the visual interaction cost. Visual interaction cost is how much we’re asking our visitors to process with their eyes.
When you think about it, if you’ve been on a site that has lots of bright colors, lots of bright contrast, lots of varied imagery, lots of emotion, you’ll probably sense that your eyes started to get fatigued after a while. So, we want to make sure what we’re doing is that we’re not creating what I would call the “Las Vegas Boulevard effect at midnight” where there’s so many lights that are flashing, creating that visual interaction cost.
We want to make sure that we’re strategically using colors and contrast imagery and motion to help guide the visitor. And to actually use those elements where it really does communicate more about your site, not strictly just for decoration purposes.
3. Physical Interaction Cost
The third interaction cost is physical interaction cost and that relates to your visitors having to move their mouse, having to click, having to type and having to navigate back and forth to pages.
Again this is something we want to minimize because visitors are only willing to put out so much of any of these three interaction costs before they’re likely to leave the site. So when it comes to thinking about physical interaction costs, what can you do that can reduce the effort of visitors needing to scroll, needing to move their mouse, needs to type and also jump back and forth on pages.
As you think about your website, think about it terms of these interaction costs, that you’re asking your visitors and the effort that you’re asking your visitors to expand on the site and look at it from a critical eye. Are there any ways that you can reduce either the cognitive effort, the visual effort, or the physical effort?
If you have any questions about interaction cost, UX design or conversion optimization, feel free to reach out to us.