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Rhetoric in Design

The act of persuasion is evident in many aspects in life and, as expected, is very powerful in the eCommerce design realm. Much like how we as individuals dress, act and communicate in different situations as we seek to produce a desired outcome, you can believe companies take the same approach.

Consider the introduction of presumed needs around new consumer products. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s take the iPad2. We as consumers, even here in Seattle, have lived most of our lives without a device like this. Apple, through carefully crafted discourse, has created a deep-seated need for consumers — and in particular, for me — to have this. Aspects of my life now seem to be only partially fulfilled, but can become complete with the help of 1.33 pounds of goodness. From the allure of the potential features prior to its release (which is evident from the smattering of rumor sites) to the opening day sale with lines wrapping around buildings, Apple has persuasion and allure down to an art. It is a well-orchestrated and carefully crafted experience that consumers can’t seem to get enough of.

Apple isn’t the only company leveraging the power of rhetorical theory when communicating with customers. We find this used in many eCommerce and transactional experiences. All of us have experienced a site that had the product we wanted; however, something about the experience made us uncomfortable and thus we took our business elsewhere. Tangible evidence from our design engagements shows a well-designed and architected user experience creates a comfort level with a customer that (when done right) results in driving conversion up. There is direct evidence that “anybody can design” could not be farther from the truth for items where a conversion is needed.

Apple is definitely proof of this.

So will I be buying into Apple’s rhetoric surrounding the iPad2, thus driving me to acquire one? Yes … yes, I will.

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