Psychological thinking behind web design?

The Psychological Approach to Web Design for High Value Service Sales

It’s fairly straightforward: people buy products and services because they need (or desire) them for themselves or their business. The journey towards deciding which products or services to buy is where it becomes a bit more complicated. This is essentially a problem-solving process, with different levels of thought involved depending on the purchase.

Some buying journeys are more psychologically involved than others. For example, buying everyday products like printer toner is a routine task with low mental engagement – you know you need it, you don’t need to think too hard about it, and very little is at stake if you accidentally pick up the wrong one (you can simply return it).

On the other hand, buying a service worth many thousands of pounds is a more risky prospect. They can cost a lot of money, they can’t be returned, and much more is at stake if you make the wrong choice. Customers need to put a lot of thought into choosing the right one, and this involves a high-engagement mental process.

To improve conversion rates, your website needs to reflect the high or low level of mental engagement your customer is likely to experience. This is why websites selling high-value, intangible services are often structured differently to standard ecommerce websites.

High value service sales: seeking information

Customers are more likely to seek and consume information about the product or service they’re thinking about buying based on their level of:

  • Need or desire.

  • The social and financial consequences of poor selection.

  • Impact of the choice on their ego and self-image.

Customers find it more difficult to evaluate intangible services. They’ll typically look for more information to help them make a more satisfying purchase than they would if they were buying a low value, tangible product. This is because they want to avoid the negative consequences associated with a poor choice.

The customer’s thought process

When designing your website, you need to consider the psychological journey of your customer. As they work through the problem solving process they’ll be balancing need, consequence, and ego.


The customer already wants your product: that’s likely how they ended up on your website in the first place (see SEO). Once they’ve arrived, your job is to make it crystal clear that you offer the exact service that they need and you only have three seconds to convince them.

Solution: Your homepage and navigation options need to shout about what you do, leading your customer to resources so that they can find more information. If you sell design services, have ‘design services’ in your navigation. If you sell multiple services, group them clearly so that visitors can find them easily.


When service purchases go wrong, it can make the buyer look bad. The fear of real-world consequences for a poor choice drives their search for information.

Solution: You need to make the customer believe you will deliver tangible results.
The best way to do this is to demonstrate your ‘social acceptance’ through case studies and recommendations from previous clients who were pleased with your work.


Self pride drives the buyer towards making well-thought-out decisions, because they want the praise and glory when things go well. They want to look good, so they want to choose the service that will make them look best.

They’ll spend an extended period of time finding and absorbing information to guide them and give them comfort in their final decision. This is likely to involve comparing your website with your competitors’.

Solution: You need to demonstrate that your work is high quality, that you offer exceptional levels of service, and that you have in-depth knowledge. An arsenal of extended information pieces or a blog (such as this one) can help you to show off your skillset.

Designing a website for high value service sales

When designing your next high value service website, you should take your customer’s expected engagement levels (and the resulting user journey) into account. This is a major aspect of web design, but not the only one we haven’t even touched on SEO or graphic design.

Consider the following:

  1. Navigation
    Based on your customer’s high level of engagement, think about the best way to name, group and prioritise your most useful and convincing primary calls to action.

  2. Page content design
    Think about the journey for each type of page. Decide which information should surface when, what information to use, and which related pages (e.g. team members, news, testimonials, in-depth/specialist information pages, etc) to link out to.

  3. The information delivery/content
    How is your content best presented: by an expert talking on video? An animation showing how your intangible service can create tangible results? Or with simple, easy-to-scan, imagery and text? This part of web design is often overlooked, but is a key ingredient to winning business.

  4. Winning the beauty contest.
    Looks sell. You need to keep up with the latest web trends to fit in and stand out at the same time.

At Mercurytide we believe in making web design work for everyone, creating a truly fantastic web experience. That's why we have developed a range of web design services to rapidly deliver everything you'd expect, but with a fully customised solution for your business.

If you have any questions about the points I've raised, or want a more in-depth chat about all things web design, please get in touch.

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