Individual Differences and How they Influence Online Behaviour

Jeanette Helen Wilson

Published Tue 06 Oct by Jeanette Helen Wilson in Perfecting Your Website's Design and Marketing More Effectively

Understanding how human beings work and what makes them tick can have a profound affect on our website’s success. In this article we'll be looking at the four basic personality types, how they're likely to behave online and how we can become more responsive to individual needs.

Web design has definitely become more person-centred, especially with the popularity of social media networks. We can no longer get away with designing websites that people must fit around. Websites must be designed, and built, to fit around the people who are going to be using them.


  • With so much competition, a website that doesn’t have the user at the forefront of its design and functionality will lose out
  • The less cognitive work users have to do the better: therefore having a website that is built upon the foundations of basic psychological understanding is more likely to click with more users
  • Websites which fulfil users’ basic needs depending on their personality type are more likely to engage and put the user at ease: this means more return visits

So let’s have a look at the four basic personality types and how they are likely to behave online. This will help us to design websites that are more responsive to individual need, whilst having a broad spectrum of appeal.

As you’re reading, think about your products and services: which personality type is most likely to fit with your potential customers?

The Explorer

  • Risk takers
  • Pursue novelty
  • Make choices rapidly, without too much planning and considering
  • Creative and fun-loving
  • Doesn’t like routine : easily bored

Case Study: The Explorer’s Ideal Website

So why is a website like "StumbleUpon" ideal for the explorers out there? 

  • It appeals to the explorer’s natural and insatiable curiosity : just by clicking the red button ‘Stumble’ they can change the landscape of the page
  • Alternative pages quickly load, which suits the explorer’s natural impatience!
  • It’s fully accessible for those constantly on the go, being mobile responsive and easy to read on a wide range of mobile devices such as tablets and Smart ‘phones
  • With a constant supply of new content, StumbleUpon is ideal for those who don’t stand still for long and are always looking for something new and exciting

The Builder

  • Sociable
  • Loyal
  • Cautious and dependable
  • Methodical
  • Like to plan
  • Like structure and security : not risk-takers

Case Study : Builders Online

Triodos Bank’s website is ideal for builders because:

  • The word ‘together’ in the feature box appeals to builders’ sociable and loyal personality: not only does it make them feel safe and secure and part of something, but the image reinforces this too. Builders like to build relationships and this security is an important inital step towards this
  • The ticklist format for the features of ISAs is ideal for builders: it reduces any reservations they may have and overcomes their caution about trying something new
  • The list format also appeals to the builder’s methodical nature
  • Gentle reassurance reduces the builder’s fear of risk
  • The colour green is subliminal reassurance too: whatever our culture, we tend to associate green with safety; for cautious builders, it gives them a subconscious signal to ‘go’: builders online often need that subtle push!

The Negotiator

  • Patient, steady and compassionate
  • Introspective
  • Like to take time making a decision, weighing up possibilities against each other: sometimes this can mean they need an extra ‘push’ into making a decision
  • Diplomatic

Case Study: Tipping the Balance for Negotiators

How does the Expedia website help tip the balance and get negotiators to commit to a purchase?

  •  Negotiators are the most likely group to read customer reviews before making a final decision, so make sure yours are up to the mark: Expedia reassures the veracity of their reviews (see grey circular box), which acts to reduce the negotiator’s natural reluctance
  • Social proof goes a long way to help negotiators make a decision: if they can see others engaging with a company, they are more likely to follow suit

Other ways of persuading negotiators to make a decision in your favour: 

  • Using good quality images to showcase your products and make them look irresistable
  • Using video for that immediate face to face interaction: they can put a face to a name and properly engage with your company on a more personal level: but make sure your video conveys genuine customer service and doesn’t come across as fake and over-corporate

The Director

  • Focused on concrete goals
  • Competitive
  • Able to make decisions
  • Thrives on reason and logic rather than ‘gut instinct’
  • Problem-solvers

Case Study: Appealing to the Director’s Direct Approach

  • On Hubspot’s home page, the short, punchy clauses ‘Stop interrupting. Start connecting’ will appeal to directors, who just want a simple, straighforward solution to an identified need
  • Directors are not overly interested in building relationships or networking socially online, so the absence of human faces on this home page will not deter them
  • Further down on the home page there is a prominent quote from a leading marketing expert, backing up Hubspot’s credentials: this will appeal to directors, who like claims backed up with evidence, especially by someone who is perceived as having a level of authority

Be The First to Comment on This Item

  • No comments for this item yet

    Why not be the first?

Comments Closed

Comments for Individual Differences and How they Influence Online Behaviour are now closed

What's New With The Team?

More Recent Updates

UK: 0115 8088303

INT: +44 (0)115 8088303

29 Royal Standard House
Standard Hill

Nottingham Web Development