Mental Set psychology and functional fixedness are arguably two of the most essential frameworks for creating a good website UX or high converting landing page.
While neuroscience and psychology are nothing new, you probably don’t consciously think about the power of human psychology and its relationship to web design.
Needless to say, good conversion-driven web design (and copywriting) involves very systematic approaches aimed at influencing the emotions and actions of a website visitor.
One of the easiest ways to achieve a high conversion rate is to think about the psychological frameworks and internal states of your website’s users.
In this article, we are going to explore Mental Set psychology, Functional Fixedness psychology and how they are key psychological frameworks for getting more sales and leads.
New to conversion rate optimization? No problem…
Before we dive into Mental Set Psychology and Functional Fixedness psychology, it’s important to quickly cover a few industry terms that apply to web design and conversion rate optimization.
This will make it easier for you to understand the relationship between how the Mental Set psychological frameworks affect your conversion rates.
What is a website conversion?
The term “conversion” refers to how many people who visited your website do what you want them to do.
What is a website conversion rate?
A website conversion rate is the percentage of users that take the desired action.
For example, if 1 out 5 visitors to a landing page buy something, then the conversion rate is 25%.
Does a website conversion rate apply only to sales?
No, a conversion rate applies to any desired action. This might be to make a purchase, register for an email list or download a piece of content.
The more visitors that become members, buyers or subscribers, then the higher the conversion rate is.
What is conversion rate optimization?
Conversion rate optimization is a specialism that optimizes a website to get more leads and sales.
What is website UX?
UX is an abbreviation for User Experience. Simply put, a good User Experience means that a website is easy to use, well designed and has no barriers preventing a conversion.
What does psychology have to do with conversion rates?
Humans are driven by 7 psychological frameworks. Similar to advertising and marketing, psychology has a strong impact on the number of people who convert when visiting a website.
Mental Set Psychology Definition
Mental sets can be thought of as subconscious tendencies that we all use to solve a problem.
These subconscious tendencies change the way that we approach a problem including how we use creativity to discover solutions.
This psychology applies to technology and websites.
What is a Mental Set?
Mental sets are shaped from past experiences and habits as well as culture- what people have been taught throughout their lives by parents, teachers etc.
These subconscious tendencies either help or hinder us when solving problems and making decisions.
This means that we each take an alternate route due to our unique cultural backgrounds and life experiences, we are all different from each other.
What is Functional Fixedness in psychology?
We’ve all been in a situation whereby someone is unable to use an object or solve a problem – even when it’s something very obvious and straightforward to you.
Psychologists define this as functional fixedness and it is a type of Mental Set.
Example of Functional Fixedness Psychology and Website UX
A perfect example of how functional fixedness applies to website UX is the Mearns Medical Center’s website.
Mearns Medical Center is my local doctor surgery and when I went to their website to order a repeat prescription, I had absolutely no idea what to click on to log in to my account.
My functional fixedness was in full swing.
I refreshed the page; navigated to other pages; clicked the menu; returned to the homepage; back to the prescriptions page and then out of frustration, I started to thump my iPad with my index finger, clicking on everything visible on the web page.
It turns out that the link to log in for repeat prescriptions is…
The web page’s title…
Most websites use buttons and clearly coloured hyperlinks as a way to signal that this is the action that the user has to do.
I was unable to solve this problem using my past experiences of navigating websites.
Therefore, my only solution was the bash away on my iPad like a masturbating monkey.
And sure, it might be an age thing (leave me alone… I’m pushing 40!), but I doubt I’m alone in believing that their website has a nasty user experience.
Yes, you’re correct in thinking that my Mental Set – specifically functional fixedness psychology – was at play.
But it’s worth remembering that when it comes to web design, most people are used to a set of universal rules meaning that their functional fixedness also determines how easy to use they find your website to be.
This means that when you decide to do something radically different to how websites normally function, then there is a strong possibility that visitors to your website will be unable to process a solution to this unique problem.
This makes for a poor website UX and this is why Mental Set psychology and Functional Fixedness psychology are important frameworks to consider whenever you design a website.
A Mental Set is most likely to inhibit
Mental sets are like a framework for thinking about problems, and they can either be shaped by habit or desire.
If you have the right mental set attached to your problem-solving skills then it will make solving those types of challenges easier.
However, a mental set is most likely to inhibit how far we progress with figuring out solutions and hinder our creativity.
When it comes to website UX you want to make it as easy and frictionless as possible for the website visitor to use it.
This means that you want to avoid issues with the user’s Mental Set inhibiting them from progressing through your sales funnel.
Always remember that simple sells.
A website with a clean design, that is easy to use and functions in a similar way to other websites will always perform better than those that are wildly unique and complicated to navigate.
Example of Mental Set
Mental Set is a tendency to approach situations the same way as before because that is the way that we solved a similar problem in the past.
It’s a type of cognitive bias that can lead people to make assumptions about how they should solve problems without taking into account all the information available.
This can cause them to miss potential solutions or strategies.
For web designers, it’s important to be aware of mental sets and how they influence the actions of users.
Therefore, as most websites use similar design elements, functionality and layouts, your users will expect those things and they’ll become frustrated when they can’t find them or if they missing altogether.
Conclusion to Mental Set Psychology is Crucial for Great Website UX
If you’re not certain what users expect from a website, then keep your website design simple.
You can then test variations of your design to see what performs better (or worse) than what is there.
Mental Set psychology and Functional Fixedness can be powerful frameworks for web designers to guide them as they create a great User Experience that converts like crazy.
By understanding how both Mental Set psychology and Functional Fixedness work and how they affect your users’, you can easily create designs that are both effective and intuitive.
After all, it doesn’t matter what you or I like. What matters is how your website resonates with your users and the lasting positive impression of flawless website UX.
Thanks for reading!