This post was originally published on KillerStartups.
A few months ago Facebook found itself in hot water, after word got out that the company conducted an experiment, during which it messed with user’s feed content to reflect positive or negative moods. This experiment was viewed by many as an intrusive, manipulative act, forcing Facebook to mumble an explanation. The truth is, that this is but a small fragment of a line of psychological steps led by a company that hires specialists in the fields full-time. You might be surprised to learn, for example, that the emoticons created by Facebook were based on “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals”, a book published in 1827 by Charles Darwin, cataloging a variety of emotional expressions.
We should make one thing clear: We are marketing experts, not psychologists. And still, in our line of work we find the need for a deep understanding of users’ thought process and experience in their interaction with every aspect of an app. Those of us who wish to turn marketing from a well-informed guess into proper science, will encounter the study of the human mind more than once along the way. During our marketing studies, we had the opportunity to take classes in marketing psychology, and we believe it would be a smart move for psychology schools to include marketing-related content in their syllabus.
The strong connection between the two worlds is even more evident in the mobile industry, particularly when it comes to gaming. Games designers can create games that will make you tell your friends about them and then forget you ever had friends. Generally, UX/UI designers fully understand the connection between what goes on in our head and what happens on screen, and this approach makes more sense as these fields become more prominent.
We ask the following questions: What motivates the user? What drives him? We wish to understand how certain details become part of the user’s long-term memory, and we attempt to build an experience in which the user navigates his way in a specific, predetermined direction. If we lost touch with the user, we want to learn from our mistakes. There is a true necessity to conduct an extensive research on the decision making process, as well as an analytical aspect, used for gathering and analyzing data. This is a tool-box that every psychology student acquires in their studies, and that could be of service for the high-tech industry.
Another central ability is listening and showing empathy. Obviously, we don’t intend for you to figure out how the user’s Mom influenced his decision to remove your app. However, developers are often too biased when it comes to their products, and cannot put themselves in the users’ place in dealing with the triumphs and difficulties he will face when using their app. The ability to simply listen to our clients and draw the right conclusions is pure gold for those of us who wish to increase our conversion and retention rates dramatically.
These skills will play a role in every step throughout your app’s optimization process: Starting with designing an icon to demonstrate the right values and send the right message, choosing the text and visual content for your App Store page, continuing with reassuring users during the permissions request stage (including asking for permission to send push notifications) and analyzing their decision to remove an app. Another crucial point is the strategic times to recommend in-app purchases, for example. Each and every decision made by the user is the result of different stages down the road, some more transparent than others. Please note that the mobile field gives us access to a great deal of user data, and cross-referencing it is incredibly relevant to us.
It all leads to one of the hottest trends in today’s market: personalization. You see, A/B testing is great, but if you truly want to reach users, you’ll have to dig much deeper. Personalization, after all, begins with the person. Understanding the personality and getting into the user’s head is crucial if you wish to follow his path to downloading and using your app. Mobile allows us to optimize in more than just two primary ways. This means that someone who installed the Facebook app, for instance, will automatically receive a recommendation for Facebook connect. Another user, who chose Twitter instead, will meet a different registration screen. The content will be different based on gender as well, and we will also differentiate between customers who have already made an in-app purchase in the past and the ones who never did. Sales and discounts should also be customized to the right clients. This is a long list of factors to consider, and you should do so systematically. We must acknowledge the gaming industry for embracing these abilities and making them accessible by using a few simple tools.
The need for a psychological analysis in the high-tech world is constantly growing. If up until now you believed your team members should have a computer-science background, it’s time for a different approach. You should seriously consider the psychology and even anthropology graduates as well. And if you happen to be one of those students or graduates – congrats! Go tell your parents you can get a job in high-tech.