How Can an eCommerce App Design Influence User Psychology?

How Can an eCommerce App Design Influence User Psychology?

All kinds of decisions of (eCommerce) are made on mobile screens. According to market research, 67% of eCommerce sales happen on mobile devices. Moreover, app-based sales see a higher conversion rate (21%) than mobile websites (6%). 

This indicates that an eCommerce business needs a mobile app and a website. But that’s only the first step. The design of an eCommerce app is equally significant in determining its success. 

So, having a good UX strategy is based on a deep understanding of user psychology, motivation, and more. If users cannot connect with an application, they might stop using it and eventually delete it. 

With that in mind, we’ve written this blog to discuss various design methods used in eCommerce apps to influence the psychology of users and ultimately change their behaviour.     

Scale UX Strategy through Design Thinking and Human-Centered Approach

Influencing and changing user behaviour can be a considerable challenge. The design should be easy to use, inviting, and relevant to target/attract end-users. 

To make the design speak to your audience, you should give decisions supported by psychology and scientific data precedence. Based on the following approaches, you can scale your UX strategies.

  • Design Thinking 
  • Human-Centred Design 

Design Thinking 

Design thinking helps companies understand their customer’s needs and wants. Getting it right results in having loyal customers. Most eCommerce apps are designed to sell products, so design thinking has ascended. 

Design thinking also embraces unconventional thinking, i.e. finding innovative solutions better suited for your customers instead of copying what the competitors do. It is an iterative, non-linear process that is most useful for tackling unknown or poorly defined problems. 

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This includes five phases – empathise, define, ideate, prototype, and test. 

How Can An Ecommerce App Design Influence User Psychology? - Inkbot Design

Human-centred Design 

To solve problems, human-centred design is a creative approach. The focus is on understanding the people with a problem and their needs—those who experience a problem inadvertently become a part of the design team. 

The app is built by cultivating deep empathy toward the people you are designing for. Human-centred design has three phases – inspiration, creativity, and implementation.

How Can An Ecommerce App Design Influence User Psychology? - Inkbot Design

Ways Design Thinking eCommerce and Human-Centred Approach Can Improve your App.

Both design thinking and human-centred design, if used in conjunction, can help with the following:

  • Onboarding
  • Engagement 
  • Retention

Onboarding: To have consumers returning to your eCommerce application, how can you improve your user experience (UX) for first-time visitors? 

Engagement: Engaging with the customer means being in the same equilibrium and hitting the right chord. This is in terms of suitable product recommendations and rewards programs. Design thinking, if used, can be beneficial as user-oriented features can be considered while eCommerce app development to keep the customers engaged. 

Retention: Customer retention depends on customer satisfaction. Positive user experience is the key to user retention. eCommerce businesses can retain customers through contests, email campaigns, loyalty points, and more. 

Using design thinking and a human-centred approach effectively for eCommerce apps is ongoing. However, constant consumer engagement and user behaviour monitoring will help you create an immersive user experience while keeping the customers motivated.

The Science of Motivation Behind User Behavior

Have you ever wondered why users behave certainly while interacting with your eCommerce App? 

What triggers them to complete a positive action like registering for an account, heading for checkout, or leaving their mail? Is it the simplicity of the user flow, placement of buttons, choice of colours, or word choice? What if the users are not engaging with your app, and what can be done to change their behaviour?

How Can An Ecommerce App Design Influence User Psychology? - Inkbot Design

A behaviour scientist and computer science professor, Dr B.J. Fogg, outlines three elements that provide coverage simultaneously for an action/behaviour to occur. These are:

  • Motivation: is the user motivated to take action?
  • Ability: is it easy for the user?
  • Trigger: what prompts the user to take action?
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One of the points mentioned above is missing when a behaviour does not occur.

How can an eCommerce App Design Influence and Change User Behavior?

As discussed above, you can influence user behaviour to get the desired outcome, motivation being the critical aspect. This section will discuss methods widely used by designers to influence user behaviour for the success of an eCommerce app.

Classical conditioning

This method is used to create an associated trigger with the help of a subconscious association technique, i.e. neutral stimuli are paired with desired stimuli (explained with an example below). 

After successive pairings over time, the neutral stimulus can extract a positive response without the presence of the desired stimulus.

The mobile device vibrates every time an order is placed on the eCommerce app. Users associate the vibration with the order being placed, increasing orders. 

How Can An Ecommerce App Design Influence User Psychology? - Inkbot Design
  • A buyer feels their device’s vibration while placing the order. The vibration is the neutral stimulus.
  • They receive the package. 
  • Over time, the user places several orders; each increases orders feeling the vibration at checkout. 
  • Eventually, the user starts associating the vibration with positive feelings to anticipate receiving the order once placed.
  • After that, the buyer subconsciously relates their mobile vibration with an eCommerce order (desired stimulus).
  • Hence, orders increase.

Operant conditioning

Using an associative learning process, you can guide an individual to the desired behaviour through positive and negative reinforcement in a method known as operant conditioning. 

For years, brands have used positive reinforcement to encourage repeat purchases, build stronger customer connections, and more. It is an ‘addition’ of something that rewards or punishes an action. 

By offering rewards to create a strong link between customers’ benefits and actions, brands can motivate customers for the desired outcome. This can be like – providing discounts on the next purchase. 

On the other hand, negative reinforcement is also designed to increase the occurrence of a particular behaviour. It works on the ‘subtraction’ of something that rewards or punishes an action. 

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It may cause annoyance and discomfort. Like every morning, you hit the snooze button to stop an alarm from going off. 

While you should feel delighted from the action taken, it likely results in frustration. In eCommerce, an application can offer premium rewards, i.e. if users subscribe to a premium package, annoying popups or advertisements will not appear. 

You can also use it to entice customers to spend more to avoid missing exciting store benefits. 


A popular eCommerce app, Betabrand, reinforces users to post content frequently.

How Can An Ecommerce App Design Influence User Psychology? - Inkbot Design
iPhone Screenshots of BetaBrand

  • It provides a rich interface where sharing is fun and easy.
  • Other users like, post, and add comments.
  • This acts as a ripple effect that increases the frequency of posting content.


This method of shaping is a variant of operant conditioning. It fortifies successive and different approximations of the target behaviour. In shaping, behaviours are broken down into small and achievable steps. 

With time these behavioural approximations grow closer to the desired response, i.e. are shaped.   


You can effectively use stories and posts on Facebook and Instagram to lead users to the product page. Reviews that showcase customer feedback can aid with the customer’s buying behaviour. 

Stories, however, will have to be frequently shared as they are available for a limited time. 

Story And Status

Social media platforms offer a frictionless purchase cycle. 

– There are “Buy Now” buttons on social media stories/posts that facilitate users to buy directly from the platform instead of going to the actual eCommerce site. 

– Over time, behavioural segmentation can identify the most engaged users. 

How Can An Ecommerce App Design Influence User Psychology? - Inkbot Design

– AI (Artificial intelligence) allows eCommerce retailers to provide a more personalised element.

– For a more contextual experience, you can display product recommendations with user offers.

– This can increase sales as users are provided with agility and finesse to purchase what they want.

Other Methods

Focus on Consistency

The very DNA of a good UX design is consistency. It influences how users interact with the application and helps with familiarity and trust-building. 

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Users can predict the behaviour through its design by focusing on standardising elements. So buttons that look the same should behave the same. 

Users want to feel empowered and in control. They believe in making connections and drawing conclusions. They also want to know how something works without reading a user manual. So how does having knowledge change and influence user behaviour? 

While designing an eCommerce app, the most crucial element that prompts a behaviour is ‘ability.’ So you can design elements that trigger the users into doing what you want them to do, such as:

  • Registration
  • Entering the email
  • Adding an item to the cart
  • Completing the checkout process
  • Leaving a review

Play with Scarcity

The human brain places higher values on things that will soon become unavailable. Things that are available in abundance are placed at lower values. 

Playing with scarcity and urgency influences user behaviour. There are several ways this trick can influence user behaviour. These are:

  • Promoting time-sensitive deals through attractive design
    Example: The offer ends in 3 days
  • Offering exclusive benefits
    Example: First 5 people to register get free shipping
  • Displaying a clock with a countdown meter or a stock meter
    Example: Only one left in stock

This method feeds the principle of supply and demand when availability decreases. Furthermore, the sense of scarcity and urgency acts as a trigger and enhances motivation, leading to a behaviour. 

For example: If you tell that an offer ends within 12 hours, then the user will be more likely to act within that period. This is because these situations push users to behave differently, often unintentionally.

Use the Goldilocks effect.

This is another effective method that influences users buying decisions, be it at one point or another. 

The method’s name has been derived from a popular children’s story, “The Three Bears.” In this, the main character, Goldilock, tastes three different porridges – one is too cold, one is too hot, and one is just right. 

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The “just right” option is what the Goldilocks effect is all about. The one that anybody should aim for in an eCommerce design.

While selling products, observing how users’ minds process information when presented with multiple choices is interesting. When users browse items, they gravitate towards the most moderate option avoiding the extremes. This includes highly-priced items. 

To highlight the middle option, you can place a banner with “best selling” just to make the option stand out visually. This way, the user behaviour is gently influenced. 


The role of designers in almost everything they undertake is crucial. Creating an eCommerce app design that resonates with users’ emotions can influence their behaviour. 

Understanding the users’ experiences and perceptions will ultimately yield a great advantage as people respond strongly to relevant messaging based on their interests, behaviours, and values. This can ultimately lead to increased sales, putting eCommerce businesses on an upward growth trajectory.

Author Bio: I am Bhavmeet Kaur, a digital business consultant with experience of 5+ years and helping you start an online business or startup firm through complete analysis and strategy of the various business modules and up-trending technologies.

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