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Mrs. Web Designer, I Think You're Trying to Seduce Me. Posted on 10/22/2002.

A long time ago, I wrote about "receptivity", talking about how a website's users are typically so task-focused that any attempt to "message" at them is lost until they've completed their primary task (usually finding a particular content page). At that point, users shift from lean-forward to lean-back, and are more likely to look around and see what their options are.

I had no significant data to base this on, apart from my own experience watching people use websites, and thinking about my own experience as a user.

So last week I attended the UI Conference, put together by the good folks at User Interface Engineering, and listened to Christine Perfetti talk about site design, and she mentioned the exact same thing that I wrote about in that receptivity piece, which is that the home page is a terrible place for promotions, because people aren't primed to receive. Well, I know that the UIE people do heaps of research, so I asked the question,

"If someone were to renovate her house, she might not think about reading up on building codes, so she wouldn't look for it. But I know that such information could be extremely useful and important to her, saving her from headaches farther down the road. How do I get people to information they don't know that they need to know?"

Christine's response involved what she termed the "seducible moment." (Don't bother looking up "seducible"; it's not a real word.) As explained in this essay on UIE's site, you can lure users off their path once they've completed a significant part of their task.

5 comments so far. Add a comment.

Previous entry: "Talking Tech."
Next entry: "First thoughts on Smart Mobs."


Better tell both American Heritage and Websters to remove Seducible from their dictionaries. We'd hate for them to have something that is "not a real word" listed, wouldn't we? ;-)
Posted by Jared Spool @ 10/23/2002 03:01 PM PST [link to this comment]

I'm a Merriam-Webster man, and they don't got it:
Posted by peterme @ 10/23/2002 05:06 PM PST [link to this comment]

I wonder how this concept jives with the successful Gold Box application on

After all, if I'm going to Amazon to buy a copy of "The Art of Seduction," what are the changes I'm really in the market for a push lawnmower?

Or are there other factors at play here?

I think that "receptivity" has less to do with a user's explicit goals, and more to do with their personality. I'm the guy you see at Home Depot loading up on razor blades and batteries at the checkout counter. Did I go there to buy them? Nope. Do I even need them? Probably not. Are checkout counters a place I can be seduced? You bet.
Posted by Steve Gershik @ 10/24/2002 01:15 PM PST [link to this comment]

Steve - that's half the point of a seducible moment - the razorblades aren't in the entry, they're in the exit, when you're done your main task. More to the point, it's also why my local hardware box store has a service counter that deals with installations in the general area for large home improvement materials (fencing, plumbing, flooring)'s easier to sell people on installations when they're focused on buying a new toilet instead of a new table lamp, since installation meets a real need.

IIRC, UIE's seducible moments offer something that is related to the primary task too, not just the fact that the primary task is done...
Posted by jess @ 10/25/2002 12:01 AM PST [link to this comment]

Okay, but how does that jive with the Gold Box application? It's on every page. It's always available. It's time limited. It's not part of the checkout process. Where's the analog to the razor blades?
Posted by Steve Gershik @ 11/04/2002 11:30 AM PST [link to this comment]

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