Beyond these important considerations, you should also think about the rational and emotional attributes of your customers. How do they think? What motivates them? What makes them laugh? What makes them cry? In other words, what are their personalities? When you start answering these questions, you can optimize your website to engage the many personality types represented within your audience by including different pieces of functionality that align with their preferences.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start designing websites that appeal to different personality types. We’ll take a crash course in the psychology of personality, then we’ll define some personality archetypes and review website functionality that these archetypes will find engaging. Let’s get started.
“Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving,” according to the American Psychological Association.
Over the years, psychologists and scientists have come up with countless ways of understanding and explaining different personalities. One of the best-known personality assessments is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) instrument based on the work of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers.
According to the Myers and Briggs Foundation website, “the purpose of the MBTI® personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people’s lives. The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.”
Somewhere in your journey as a student or employee at a large company, you’ve likely taken the MBTI assessment. It yields 16 different personality types, each abbreviated with a four-letter shorthand. Are you an ENTJ? Or perhaps an INFJ or an ISFP?
Another popular personality assessment is DiSC, which was developed by psychologist William Moulton Marston. The DiSC assessment examines how an individual ranks in four areas of behavior – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. If you take the assessment, you’ll receive a DiSC profile indicating your tendencies. For example, you may score highly in dominance and influence while your colleague ranks in steadiness and conscientiousness.
It can be a challenge to keep track of all these different personality types, so for the purposes of this article on designing websites to appeal to different personality types, we’ll focus on four representative personality types that could be described easily in multiple models:
- The Over-Achiever
- The Procrastinator
- The Collaborator
- The Fact-Checker
Website Design 101
A “good” website design enables site visitors to quickly engage and find the information that they’re seeking, even if they might not know in advance exactly what that is. A good website is one that’s designed for the user experience. And it’s no coincidence that good website designs also score well in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), ranking high in common searches so they can get found in internet searches.
Your website design is important because it affects perceptions of your brand and influences your visitors’ behaviors, often by building trust; educating and informing; nurturing; and enabling the accomplishment of an intended objective.
In the next sections, we take a look at how to start designing websites that appeal to different personality types by providing specific recommendations.
Designing for the Over-Achiever
These people have a dominant, Type A personality. They are driven, competitive and goal-oriented. They like to take charge of situations and often present themselves as leaders. They care about the bottom line and return on investment and appreciate efficiency. They’re often hard workers who come off as hurried and impatient and high-strung.
Clearly and quickly show them results that demonstrate how effectively your product or service will help them solve a problem they have, save time or get ahead. Make sure they know that you’re a winner, too. Appeal to their inner competitor, who inherently wants to crush their competition.
- Include strong photos, graphics and icons that capture attention.
- Use infographics to concisely and quickly convey key statistics or facts.
- Use simple comparison charts that sell the competitive advantages of your product or service.
- Include success stories, but don’t bother with touchy-feely testimonials or opinions.
- Bolster your own reputation as a winner by mentioning awards and recognition that you’ve received.
- Include a conspicuous call to action (CTA) button, such as “Buy Now” to invite them to take the next step.
Designing for the Procrastinator
These fun-loving, spontaneous people have the classic Type B personality. They see lots of possibilities in the world and love the excitement that comes with a good or interesting idea. They are creative, enthusiastic, energetic and friendly. They are easygoing and enjoy interacting with the world and establishing rapport with others. They value personal connections but don’t care much about competition or routines. They are quick to become interested and also quick to lose interest.
Take a big picture approach and don’t overwhelm them with too many details. Show how your product or service will help interactions and relationships with others. Give examples they can relate to quickly.
- Use strong photos that draw attention.
- Use large, bright graphics and fonts.
- Include short, compelling videos.
- Convey a sense of excitement — don’t be afraid to use exclamation points!
- Emphasize what’s new or cutting edge.
- Concisely show features and benefits in an obvious way — don’t make them have to dig for them.
- Have a live chat for instant connection and answers to their questions.
- Place contact info conspicuously on every page so they don’t have to go find it and potentially get distracted along the way.
- Include a personal satisfaction guarantee. Remember relationships matter.
- Show total numbers of reviews and overall ratings on your homepage, but don’t clutter it with details and wordy testimonials.
- Include eye-catching portfolios for creative services or offerings.
- Include social media links to encourage greater connection and give you a way to bring them back to your site later.
Designing for the Collaborator
These people care deeply about other people and tend to put the needs of others above their own. They are steady, stable, friendly people pleasers who value respect, loyalty and friendship and who crave peace and order. They like routine but not sudden changes, although they’re always interested in improving relationships. They’re patient and diplomatic and tend to avoid confrontation.
Appeal to their desire to support and help others. Show imagery with happy people getting along or demonstrating concern for others. Explain how your product or service will benefit others. Finally, make sure you’ve also demonstrated your own credibility when it comes to relationships and customer service.
- Include imagery showing happy people or people who are collaborating.
- Use testimonials that talk about how happy your product or service made people or how it improved their lives of those of others in their community. Video testimonials are more effective for this audience.
- Emphasize and clearly display benefits (rather than features).
- Publish data, but let it speak for itself.
- Include an About Us section that mentions how you give back to your community through activities like volunteering, mentoring or donations.
- Include a Sustainability section that shows how you are taking care of others by taking care of the planet.
- Emphasize ongoing customer relationships by highlighting easy and convenient customer service options that are available.
Designing for the Fact-Checker
These cautious, logical people love information and want to have all the facts and details prior to making any decisions. They’re conscientious and will take the time to analyze all available data. Accuracy and quality are extremely important. Being methodical, they care about organization and process. They never want to feel rushed to decide and will take the time to read all the fine print.
Give them all the information they could want and maybe a little more. Create a path for them to reach out with questions and get answers. Make sure that all the information you provide is trustworthy, and whatever you do, don’t rush them.
- Make sure your site navigation is logical and works flawlessly so they can go everywhere on your site and not get lost or stuck.
- Include a search bar to make it easier to access desired information.
- Include links to click and drill down into detailed tech specs.
- Include an FAQ section so they can help themselves answer as many questions as possible without having to reach out for help.
- Make sure your Contact Us section has an email so they can contact you at their convenience because they don’t love to call or live chat.
- Provide access to detailed reviews from other customers. Long wordy reviews won’t scare them off.
- Include a resources page that links to whitepapers, case studies and even other helpful sites.
- Prompt them to subscribe to your e-newsletter for more info and to stay informed. There should be an obvious CTA button to make this possible.
- Include a site footer with links to lots more detail (such as links to your FAQs, newsletter subscription link, and other in-depth resources). The other personality types will never get down this far on your site, so you don’t have to worry about overwhelming anyone else.
Putting It All Together
The Harvard Business Review has summed it up well: “The scientific evidence is consistent and clear: one can increase the effectiveness of marketing messages and other types of persuasive communication by tailoring them to people’s psychological profiles.”
Different personality types process and communicate information differently. That’s the science. Where the art comes in is putting yourself in the minds of others and crafting messages that speak to their different personality types, no matter where they are in the customer journey.
So, the next time you’re wondering how to add even more value as a digital strategist, run through the checklists provided in this article and make sure you’re designing websites that appeal to different personality types. This will ensure that a site’s visitors will feel like the site is speaking to them — whatever their personality is — whenever they visit.
Resources for Further Reading