Intuition or Deliberation?

Intuition or Deliberation?

Why Do Your Online Consumers Buy From You?


Let’s face it. Conversion is a holy grail metric for online marketers. Ecommerce teams are constantly making tweaks behind the scenes in hopes of gaining ground on their low single-digit conversion rates. (For those unfamiliar, an ecommerce conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who purchased something from an online store in a set period of time.)

Recent research from the Harvard Business Review suggests that trust and intuition can be more important than rational deliberation. Do you agree?

HBR designed an experiment involving 245 research subjects who visited an unfamiliar website and were exposed to different experimental conditions and asked to make various low-risk or higher-risk decisions, such as whether to hand over personal data or hard-earned money.

The results? According to HBR:

“The message from our study is clear: When making decisions involving risk, such as an online purchase from a website, consumers tend to rely more on intuition than on deliberation. This is important because it challenges the established deliberative perspectives of consumer trust formation and offers an explanation as to why things like aesthetics, professionalism, and other implicit clues matter for building online trust.

Understanding that online consumers do not always engage deliberative processes, but often rely on intuition — especially when making higher-risk decisions — has profound implications for redesigning online consumer experiences. “Simple” changes (such as page layouts and choices of fonts, images, and colors) may be far more critical to associative trust-formation processes than we previously understood. Our findings suggest that what seem like merely aesthetic design choices may actually be the way your customers learn to trust you (or don’t). And that will influence whether they decide to make a purchase.”

While it may seem counter-intuitive to some, I believe this research underscores the need for compelling branding, UX copy writing designed to foster trust that will influence purchase decisions.

Read the original article, “Research: How Customers Decide Whether to Buy from Your Website” at


Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash 

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