Psychology is important to UX design. This may not seem an immediately obvious truth since Freud or Jung might seem distant relatives of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.
The fact is, however, that in all branches of design focus on the responses our products will provoke. In this way, all designers are necessarily psychologists – they must understand and predict why and how what they build will affect their audience.
In UX and web design, a lot of this comes to revolve how people tend to respond to layout, typography and graphical elements. Get the mix and balance right, and your visitors will be more likely to return or become customers; get it wrong and you’ll turn them off – they may not be able to say why, but a psychologist would.
Psychology in Colour
In what ways can a designer use psychology to improve their work, then? For starters, they can think about colour. There’s a wide range of studies concerning how humans react to colour, but as a rule, we are attracted to bright and vibrant ones. To that end, designs which feature more exciting colours will be more successful.
Likewise, men and women react differently to colour. Which gender, if either, is your primary audience? Many studies show that men are less good at discerning different shades of colour than women, while simultaneously tending to be better at tracking fast-moving objects.
Colour has other effects, too. For example, the evidence shows that red or orange is most effective for boosting conversion, whilst red-themed websites can use green to achieve the same effect. A good designer knows their colour theory back to front and can get you the results you need merely through the judicious application of that knowledge.
Psychology in Text
Text, too, is important: words don’t just communicate their own meanings. Their layout will influence your site’s message, too. Take, for example paragraphing: space them out properly and users’ eyes will glide across them; put them too close together, or make each too long, and instead, those eyes will glaze over.
Too much text is a turn-off, but so is small text. At the risk of being the pot to call the kettle black, aim, for simplicity with your copy: keep thing straightforward and well spaced, and your users will respond positively.
We’re used to thinking of psychology as a tool for managers and leaders, whose job is to cajole and persuade members of a team. Think of designers, too, as professional persuaders: their job is to convince your visitors to stay long enough to engage with your company.
To do that, they need to understand humans in all their complexity and quirkiness. And that’s why psychology is so important for UX design.
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