Video shows the use of buying modes in persuasion architecture

Personas are used to help in web design — especially in optimizing its content. The goal is to identify important user types and speak to them in their own language. Personas are traditionally archetypes, such as the following (these are summaries of longer personas, pulled from three randomly-selected persona sets):

  • A single, 50-something female executive researching healthcare options for her mother, and intending to share her findings with her siblings
  • A young man who works as a car mechanic, considering buying an engagement ring online and afraid of making a mistake
  • An elected city official responsible for recommending a source for a fleet of utility vehicles, who is unaccustomed to using the internet

Purchasing styles are implied within those personas, and those varying styles are key to how a site is designed to cultivate interest and close the online sale. It’s knowledge of these varying purchasing styles that helps set the tone and composition of a site — choosing what goes where on a page, and how is it presented.

This begs the question: Since purchasing styles are so important, why can’t you focus on those alone, and place other aspects of a persona on the back burner? The answer is you can.

Roy H. Williams, along with The Eisenburg Brothers, tout a four-quadrant system for categorizing a person’s purchasing style. It is as follows:

  1. Fast + Logical = “Competitive”
  2. Fast + Emotional = “Spontaneous”
  3. Slow + Emotional = “Humanistic”
  4. Slow + Logical = “Methodical”

These Modes of Persuasion Architecture are described at length in Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing.

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Books like this one from The Brothers Eisenberg are all well and good. But they can be fairly lifeless. Then, this morning, I saw their dimensional approach brought to life. It was in a video produced by Patrick Sullivan, Jr., showing the home page of, a slick personal finance site. See for yourself how various modes of purchasing are successfully addressed on this excellent site.