Our lives aren’t run as a stream of unconnected events, where we are constantly surprised, and often confused. In most cases, anyway…
Actually each event in our lives runs against a cognitive script - a set of expectations we’ve built up from experience. For instance, think about walking into a new shop you’ve never been in. You don’t immediately panic, because the script stored in your head maps out into how the store works…
1. Walk in through a door
2. Get greeted (in the US) or ignored (Europe)
3. Browse around the shop, typically anything not bolted down is for sale
4. Find something you like? Check it for a price tag. Unless it’s a high end shop, in which case you probably can’t afford it
5. Look around for where to pay – typically a table with cash registers and a shop assistant standing behind it
6. Pay, and leave clutching your bag and new possession
Exceptions tend to be either badly designed stores, or break-throughs like Apple’s flagships. Of course, in that case we quickly build a new cognitive script (find a “Genius”, skip straight to step 6 as above).
So why is this cognitive script so important online? Well, when building your online store (or app, etc), you can either:
- Conform to the cognitive script we all have about ecommerce websites (search box top right, shopping cart, etc)
- Disrupt it. At your peril…
The risk of disrupting it and getting it wrong is significant – unless you think you’re Apple it’s probably best avoided. In fact, even Apple avoid it online.
The effect of conforming to our cognitive scripts is that you remove any barriers to purchase, and prevent us from panicking when we shop with you. Always a good outcome.
Finally, my cognitive script may differ from the next shopper – so target your messaging and your approach to me (recognise when I want to be greeted, and when I don’t, etc), and I’ll leave your store with an even lighter wallet.