The relationship between psychology and UX: What every web designer needs to know

Web designing is not just purely an artistic job. It’s also important to understand the behaviour of the users. Focusing mainly on the aesthetic aspect is not enough to create a website that will top the search engine results pages. More than just being proficient in various SEO strategies, it’s also necessary to understand the role of human psychology when designing a website. That way, you’ll reach the target market and improve your business at the same time.


The role of human behaviour in web design


With the rise of viral videos and information, it has become difficult to target the market and gain their interest. Because of this, web designing has become subjective and personalized based on how your target audience behaves. Understanding their insights and motivations can help increase your site’s click through rates and, eventually, your rankings.


If your web designer applies psychology in the creative process, it can produce more positive results. Considering psychology in web design can greatly help in persuading your users to take actions as you expected. It may sound like a complicated approach but the results are going to be worth it. And it’s not like you need to have a Ph.D. to understand them better, all you need to know are the common psychological principles that are often applied in the design process.


Gestalt Principles

This 100-year-old psychological theory concludes that the users unify the visual elements of the website into different groups. It’s divided into these principles:


  1. Similarity: Seeing similar objects make a user perceive each element as an individual part of one group. These elements include shape, size, color, or texture. The similarity of different elements gives the users the sense of coherence between the design elements. That’s why, it’s important to choose a theme for each website so it can attract the attention of the users.
  2. Continuation: Make sure that there will be no breaks that will distract the motion of the human eye. According to this principle, the human eye moves naturally from one object to another. So, if there’s something that breaks its motion, the user’s engagement on the website may be compromised. This is the reason why people are not fond of seeing too much pop up ads on a site. The users prefer to have continuity when searching online.
  3. Closure: A human’s eye has a tendency to see closed shapes right away. Having closure works where an object is incomplete but the user sees it as a full shape. You can have a crescent moon or a broken line to add on the web design.
  4. Proximity: Too much space, or the lack of, affects users’ experience. If an individual sees objects that are placed together, they see it as a group. But, on the other hand, using a lot of white spaces can make it harder for the users to find what they are looking for. Thus, you have to use those spaces wisely.
  5. Figure/Ground: People’s eyes tend to change focus depending on their visual interest. This principle also entails that choosing the right background color or design and deciding which photos to highlight is an important aspect.


These principles made us consider that the human brain is pretty much subjective. It sees whatever is enticing to it. Considering the Gestalt principles during the web creation process is a powerful tool to gain user engagement.


Cognitive Load Theory

This theory refers to the amount of mental effort used in a person’s working memory. Basically, it’s the amount of time necessary to complete a specific task. Cognitive Load Theory focuses on how a user digests the information. Thus, making them understand the message right away. To better understand this theory, here are its three types:


  1. Intrinsic cognitive load: This refers to the difficulty associated with a specific instructional topic. That’s why creating titles and subtitles play a big role in having a good user experience. It’s also the same concept why tactical content writing, such as listicles and how to’s, is important. Moreover, it’s the main reason why highlighting Call to Actions, like making it bigger than the other elements in the page, is effective.
  2. Extraneous cognitive load: On the other hand, the extraneous cognitive load refers to the way we present the information or tasks to the user. This is where the choice of color or font types come in handy. How we make them see what we want them to see matters as well.
  3. Germane cognitive load: Lastly, the germane cognitive load is about the processing of information and construction of schemes. It’s easier for the users to identify an information if they can see a pattern or format. It’s also a factor to uplift the usability of a website.


Hick’s Law

A simple and one of the most popular principles is the Hick’s Law. It basically connotes that the decision making of an individual depends on the available choice. Which means that if a user can see a number of choices, it may take them a little while to come up with a decision. In basic lay outing, it’s the same as organizing the menus into categories so the users can immediately choose an item to click. Also, it’s the reason why there are options to sort the products and services for some website – providing fewer options for the users.


Psychology of Colors


Enticing the human brain goes far beyond shapes and techniques. Colors have a huge impact on the user’s perception. Thus, designers have to carefully choose the colors that they will use in every website. Here are some of the basic colors and the meanings that they are usually associated with:


Red. Passionate, strong, or aggressive feelings. It symbolizes love, confidence, passion and anger.


Orange. Energetic and warm color bringing the feelings of excitement.


Yellow. Happiness, joy, and warmth.


Green. Nature. It brings calming and renewing feelings.


Blue. Corporate, formal images. It usually shows calm but cool that associates with distance and sadness.


Purple. Royalty and wealth. It’s also a color of a mystery and magic.


Black. Tragedy and death. It also signifies a mystery. It can be used traditionally and modern.


White. Purity and innocence, wholeness, and clarity.


What matters most

All these aspects boils down into one factor: emotion. The human brain may be tricked using different psychological theories but what matters most is understanding and researching about your target market. It takes more than a scientific research to perfectly persuade your users. That’s why, it’s important to get a team of professionals who will dig these things deeper for you.


With Google’s latest algorithm updates, search engine optimization has gone far than when it started. To stay relevant, you have to make sure to touch the users’ hearts. The digital age has become more human than you think. Thus, it will be more efficient to shut down those robots belief and start analyzing how your target market think and feel.