Frewin Design Consultancy


To Click or Not to Click?

How the Human Brain Progresses through the Decision Making Process



We often believe that we all make decisions consciously, i.e. when we are seeking to make that special purchase be it a holiday, a home or just the latest DVD are actions are taken by ourselves knowingly and deliberately. Wrong on most levels…much if not most of our decision making is made unconsciously and those in the know are beginning to use experts and present knowledge in this field to ensure the website and final product chosen belongs to them!


In simplified terms we all as human beings are fortunate to have and use three brains; these have come to be known as the New Brain, Mid Brain and Old Brain. Most of us are probably aware of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and how one uses logic, while the other is more artistic.


With the 3 Brain types, we have further uses, starting with the New Brain, known in more scientific circles as the Cortex (Pre-Frontal Cortex) this is the brain that is in the present, which we use consistently to read, speak and most importantly the brain we use for reasoning and logical thought, and where one would come to believe our decision making process comes into its own. The Mid Brain is where our physical movement and feelings are controlled…hence what we’ve come to term as emotion (e-motion). When we are moved by someone or something both the New and Mid Brain work together to firstly make sense of, and then to react to, whatever we are hearing or seeing (visual and auditory).


Two essential parts of the Mid Brain are known as the Amygdala, these regulate emotions, and are about the size of an Almond, so hence why we are so interested in ideas and concepts that build into stories, because in the first instance these ‘stories’ activate our New Brain as we try to remember or relate ourselves to what we are hearing, followed by the Mid Brain kicking in via the Amygdala to let us know how we will feel or are feeling at that time.


What you may then ask is, what is the relevance of the Old Brain, this brain evolved from the brain stem and is often known as the reptilian brain, known as such because all vertebrates and reptiles have one and there lies the key... the Old Brain is and always has been our ‘survival kit’ in the sense that it unconsciously decides in simplified terms whether we can eat it, have sex with it or run away from it i.e. to see something as a perceived threat. From this point of view, it therefore is the major decision making part of the brain.


Once we are aware of this , in terms of effective Web-design , we need to use quite different visual design as well as the written word, to target required behaviours in such a way as to appeal to the Old Brain as well as to the other less important Mid and New Brains. Neuroscientists estimate that our five senses take in up to 11 million pieces of information every second; we process only 40 of these consciously so the unconscious has to deal with the rest.


So therefore E-commerce and On-line Business needs to know how to target their potential clients and create behaviours that will lead to engagement. Key areas for success are, known areas of influence and persuasion along with being able to enlighten and engage all three brains. The visitor to your website wants to feel as though they are making logical decisions, even though they aren’t ….everyone likes to believe all decisions are not only based on careful thought but made consciously…our success is knowing that our websites will speak to all three brains with a conscious effort in an unconscious way !


Clever, like any good closing 5 minutes of a thriller serialisation...hopefully this leaves you wanting more!