The work of Andrew Chak has been enlightening. It encapsulates many of the UX concepts I use within the framework of designing websites for 4 users.
Andrew put it quite simply; there are 4 types of users: Browsers, Evaluators, Transactors and Customers. Now, these aren’t actual people, but they represent mindsets we adopt during the decision-making process while engaging with an eCommerce website.
A Browser is at the beginning of the decision cycle. He does not know exactly what he wants but he recognises that he has a need and needs help to better understand what he should be looking for.
An Evaluator wants help in making a choice. He wants detailed information to compare alternatives, whittle down his options and make a decision to transact.
A Transactor has decided what and where he wants to transact. He needs help and guidance to lead him through the website’s call to action before he gets lost or loses his motivation.
A Customer has completed a transaction with the website. He is looking to be taken care of and given a reason why he should transact with the website again.
In the book, he also talks about the 2 fundamental motivators that move users through the decision process:
The desire for reward: rewards are about communicating to user the type of person he can be or the results he can accomplish by working with you (e.g. bikini-clad women on posters selling beer).
The fear of punishment: this is the fear of being hurt or, more importantly, losing out on something. Anything that compromises our freedom to pursue opportunities or our freedom to choose will prompt us to act (e.g. time-limited discounts or limited quantity products).
You’d think that selling the benefits of a product (reward) to be a stronger motivator. However, of these 2 motivators, it is more effective to emphasise the consequences (punishment) of not acting than to promote the value of what you have to offer (e.g. only 5 tickets left!).
I highly recommend reading Andrew’s book Submit now: Designing persuasive websites. In the meantime, I leave you with an excerpt from the book that contains a checklist for evaluating websites using this framework.