Funny Enough to Buy{2}

by Omar N.

Axure - Ux Man

Taken from one of Professor Zhang's Slides

As a follow-up to last week’s lecture on user experience, I found an interesting article that shows a study about the effects of interactivity and humor in getting visitors to buy from an E-commerce business. The author conducted an experiment by showing participants various websites that contained interactive vs. non-interactive and humor vs. non-humor designs. Interactive websites were ones that had product demo pages giving the users the ability to manipulate the products through mouse clicks. Results showed that these websites gave the users a much more positive perception than the non-interactive ones. Humor, however, showed to only have a marginal benefit. The author believes that it is possible the result were caused by the fact that they only used mild humor in the research. It is expected that stronger humor may have a greater effect on perception.

I think most people would have already guessed that an interactive website is much more appealing than one without. Before reading the article, I thought that humor would also have a greater impact. It made me think of the funny Axure slide we saw in class with Ux Man being accused of having super human powers of cloning, mind reading, and enchantment. This slide alone made me interested enough to visit the webpage and see what it was about. Now that I’ve read the article, I guess it makes sense because everyone’s sense of humor is different, so it can be hit or miss.

If you’re a web designer, one of your goals is conversion rate optimization, so creating an interactive website when possible is a no brainer. After all, just like a brick and mortar store, the longer the customer stays, the better chance of getting them to buy. The big question is do you introduce humor into the layout. That will all depend on what you’re selling, of course, because you want to match your target demographic. But, what if you sell toys? Do you make it funny for the kids or parents? Will you alienate people with your humor? Offend? These are the burning questions that keep me up at night.

Gao, Y. (2011). An Experimental Study of the Effects of Interactivity and Humor in E-commerce. The Review of Business Information Systems, 15(1), 9-9-14. Retrieved from