Book Review: Webs of Influence

Book Review: Webs of Influence

1st May 2013

Last year I got a copy of the book ‘Webs of Influence’, written by Nathalie Nahai. Nathalie is a web psychologist and therefore is moving on a playing field I myself am doing a lot with as well.

I read the book a while ago but never got around to actually writing a review about it. And since Nathalie is speaking at OMNLondon this week I thought, let’s get this online!

What is the book about?

Webs of influence is a book which looks at all sorts of different elements that make people take specific decisions online. And it translates those things in to actionable elements which you can use on your own website.

The book, written by Nathalie Nahai, is several things at once: a guide, a how to and a book with insights into the minds of people.

About the Author

Nathalie Nahai is known on Twitter as the ‘@TheWebPsych’ and with reason. She did a BSc in Psychology, which explains why the ‘Psych’ is there. But Nathalie has a very broad background. She went to art school and she is a musician as well, if you do a search on YouTube on her name you will find not just presentations of her about Web Psychology, but also several songs she sang over the years.


Her diverse background makes that she looks at things from a different angle, so her artistic background helps her look at sites differently, not as an SEO but more as a designer.

In the past few years she has made an art out of finding out and writing about ‘what makes people click online’. Not so much in search engines, but more on websites itself.

The book she wrote is about building reputational capital, social psychology principles that work to create more persuasive relationships and much more creative webspychology elements.

Last year I interviewed Nathalie before her talk at the Conversion Conference in London.

What is interesting about the book

In the book Nathalie combines psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics to get a grip on why people click. And with her book she shows that so many sites still have room for improvement if they just start focussing on the user first instead of the content first.

How is the book set up

The book is set up in 3 parts:

1: Know who you’re targeting
2: Communicate persuasively
3: Sell with integrity

The book has some handy recurring elements in it.

Nathalie starts each of the different parts with something we mostly see online: an info graphic. This is a very nice way of starting a section because it will instantly get you ‘in the right setting’.

Nathalie also uses a lot of examples as in cases, a proven method which always works to make it more visible to people. The problem with cases however is that many cannot relate to them because it is ‘nothing like their own business’. Nathalie has a nice approach to that which partly solves this issue. There are several paragraphs called ‘Make this work for you’ which explains how you can ‘translate’ the examples Nathalie is giving onto your own website.

This is really a valuable add on to the book because many books that talk about psychology stop at explaining that something is happening and why but don’t take the next step to the ‘and now what’, which I personally find very useful.


What is missing?

As said earlier the book is very much focussed on what is happening on the site itself. Which is very useful, but also means the parts before that are missing. Nathalie does not look at how people get to the site.

I would love to see more about search, social and getting the attention and keeping the attention of the right audience. But that probably is a whole new book right there.

Who should be reading this book?

The book I think is fit for every webmaster, smaller or larger. It has to be a webmaster that has an influence on what is actually happening on the website though when it comes to design elements for example.

Someone working as a content manager who has no access to certain elements of his or her own site might get frustrated. So you need to have access to some design elements to make the tips work.

Why Read?

So finally, why should you read this book? Personally I think the answer to that is not just one answer. For me it was very interesting because the topic is something I do a lot with, but there is also a lot to learn from this.

The most important reason I think however is that it makes you think. It makes you think about your audience, something still too little marketers do.

You can see Nathalie speak at OMNLondon this week. Find below a presentation she recently did in the Netherlands.



Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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