How to use the Persuasive Pattern Card Deck


The Persuasive Pattern cards distills comprehensive research into human behavior into 54 quick insights. They are the result of years of writing and teaching about these exact principles.

The cards were designed help generate ideas for new products, features, or creative solutions to problems. There is no right way to use them, however I have found them especially useful for a series of purposes.

Landing page and conversion optimization

If your goal is to sign users up, you will find a series of cards especially useful: Social Proof, Authority, Liking, Cognitive Dissonance, Commitment & Consistency, Scarcity, and Tunneling are just a few principles that will rock your boat.

Onboarding and first-time use

So you finally got your users to sign up for your product. Now it’s time to give them a good first-hand experience. Cards like Appropriate Challenges, Endowment Effect, Rewards, Levels, Completion, Achievements, and Recognition over Recall will help drive people toward action, keep momentum, and let users get a grasp of all your product has to offer.

How to use in brainstorming sessions

I have found the cards useful for challenging the status quo. Is there a new angle we can approach this problem from? Did we remember to think Social Proof into this? If our current solution is A, would solution B also work?

While there is no right way to use the cards, a few phrases can serve helpful during brainstorming sessions:

  • How do we use [card] to [goal]? Here, [goal] could be to “get users to fill out their full name”, “get users to share content on social media”, or “only upload quality content”.
  • If our current solution is [card A], then how would the solution look if it was based on [card B]? This phrase can help generate entirely new solutions based on alternative paradigms.

A great learning tool

The Persuasive Pattern card deck is a fun and easy way to learn about complicated psychological concepts. Just browsing through the deck and reading through each card will most likely give you new ideas.

How should I organize the cards

The deck is parted into 8 different categories. Initially, the cards were color-coded so that each category had their own color, but during trial exercises, the color-coding was found to be more in the way than helpful.

A recurring pattern was that users of the deck would organize (and reorganize) cards to fit the particular problem they were trying to solve. Having cards color-coded conveyed the message that this behavior was wrong. Our urge for Completion would make people put them back together in the organization of the colors rather than their own intention.

Some cards go well together and together form new persuasive patterns. My hope is that you will discover your own patterns and uses for these cards.


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