Psychology and UX: what you need to know

by Anton Boshoff
Tue, 18/12/2018 - 08:00

In the digital world, not many people think about the psychology behind what designers and developers do. We are often only looking at what is being produced and not at the thought processes behind it. But there is much more to creating the perfect User Experience (UX) design, such as the psychology behind certain design choices. 

UX design is one of many digital marketing activities which looks into the psychology of the consumer before making any decisions. For example, many UX professionals look at aspects such as where items are placed on a screen, the colour of certain elements on a website and people’s decision-making abilities. Learn more about the psychology behind UX with our insights below. 

People don’t want to work… too much
Now, this is something that many of us can agree with, especially when it comes finding a website to suit our needs. For example, we might search for “what does IGTV mean” and find a website that looks as though it has the information we need for our purposes. 

But when we land on it, there is a bombardment of text and images, and we can’t find anything useful or relevant. Clicking around on a badly designed website will cause a consumer to leave the site, and fast. This is because they have had to work too hard to get the information they need. Give your website a better UX by keeping it simple by removing some text, adding in more imagery and clearer menus and links. This will improve customer experiences. 

People want better positioning
Take a look at an app or site you use frequently on your phone, tablet or computer. There is one thing that they all have in common: the positioning of the user actions. User actions include the homepage, the profile page (for e-commerce sites) and the search bar. 

While most websites still use the hamburger menu for their navigation, many apps have changed their UX and now use a serial position effect. Put simply, the serial position effect involves how well a person remembers items in a series. For example, on many mobile apps, you will notice a top and bottom navigation bar with the pertinent user actions at the right or left. You can use this too on your mobile app or mobile website version so consumers can navigate your site easily and effectively to find a product or service with ease. 

People need visual focal points
Humans are visual creatures. Often our eyes are drawn to visual items which are different to others on the screen, such as bright purple banners proclaiming the meaning of IGTV for brands on a white background of a marketing campaign landing page. 

Or it could be a sign-up button that is bright red, contrasting with the pale blue logo of a site and the borderless user actions. For your UX, be sure to implement visual focal points to draw in the eye of the user. You can use design elements in contrasting colours and shapes or you could even use typography as a focal point for a promotional page or a sign-up button. Remember to limit these focal points and not make them full screen, otherwise, consumers will become overwhelmed and might leave your site. 

People want decision-making to be easy
We all know the feeling. We land on a page with multiple-choice options and are suddenly inundated with a list of choices that make decision-making somewhat difficult. One UX design principle that can remedy this is known as Hick’s Law. 

Hick’s Law is easy to understand. It means that the time it takes to reach a decision relies on the number of choices available. So, when the number of choices go up, the decision-making time does too. Having a list of four to five items is the best way to implement this design principle, as it provides enough choices for people to feel as though you are offering them variety, but not too many to confuse them. 

People want continuity in design
When our eyes see items that are grouped together or are close to one another, our mind immediately assumes that they are related. Items such as new books for sale on Amazon or information about an event should all be placed in the same group in order for it to make sense to users. 

For example, if your client wants a website built for their online store, you will need to be sure that all related products are grouped together. You cannot group food products and hair products together, because the mind will assume they are related and this will confuse the buyer. How items are grouped together will affect a user’s task flow, so be sure there is continuity in how you group elements together on a page. 

Put on your thinking cap
UX and psychology go hand-in-hand with one another. Which means that you have to think carefully about your UX decisions in order to create a successful design. Remember to keep it simple and easy to understand, position menu items in places that make sense and use visual focal points.
Make sure your website has continuity and does not overload the user with information. And be sure to apply all of these ideas to your mobile UX too. If you think like a website user, you will be able to design the perfect UX. 

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