Human psychology drives behaviour and decision making. From the placement and colour of a button on a website, to where the information is placed on the main menu, website developers can directly influence the actions of the user.
While humans are complicated species, they are remarkably predictable when it comes to patterns of behaviour. By understanding psychology, you can gain a grasp on what your audience is going to do, and when, and create design decisions which can improve the entire experience of your website — leading to more enquiries and greater sales.
What is UX (User Experience) and why is it so important?
The aim of UX design is to create a memorable and positive experience for website users — one which fulfills their specific wants and needs. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to feel frustrated and annoyed when visiting your site because they have difficulty navigating your webpage or finding the information they need. A great user experience keeps people coming back again and again, and drives brand and product loyalty; something which is essential in today’s saturated marketplace.
Well thought out UX design takes the user on a journey through your product or service, making them more likely to click those all important “contact us” or “add to cart” buttons.
The importance of psychology in UX design
A large portion of human behaviour is driven by the subconscious mind. In order to conserve energy, the mind is constantly looking for patterns and shortcuts in order to process a situation. The brain will very quickly identify something, label it, and then discard it until it is relevant again (5). This level of understanding can help you to design a website which immediately draws the user to the information that is most important, and can entice them to make a decision at the click of a button. The role of the UX designer is to understand the key psychological principles which influence this behaviour, and incorporate this into the website design.
While it may sound like a difficult task, there are some psychology laws we already know that can be adopted into design to capture the interest of users.
- The speakeasy effect: People prefer things they are familiar with — whether that be words, products, or experiences. On the other hand, they can associate new words or products with risk. If you use familiar language for your audience on your website and in your communications, they are more likely to trust you and buy from you.
- The choice paradox: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when met with too many options to choose from. Reduce the number of choices or options within your website and the user will feel more certain and confident in their decision making.
- Selective disregard and memory limitations: Online, it is impossible to give attention to every stimulus on a webpage, so users will naturally ignore what they consider as irrelevant to them. Studies have shown that most users look to the middle and sides of a webpage for the information they need. You can improve their attention by creating bold headings or images that stand out and draw the eye to relevant information. Given that memory is also a limitation when scanning a webpage, it pays to put the most important information in long page text at the top and the bottom. Users will often forget what was in the middle, but can recall what they saw first and last.
- The psychology of colours: The choice of colour in website design can be a factor in the choice and behaviour of users. Different colours have different meanings, so it’s important to match the colour to the feel and tone of your business. For example, orange stimulates energy and excitement, while green can elicit a calming effect.
- The Von Restorff effect: Also known as the isolation effect, the Von Restorff effect describes how the position of an item or design element can affect the recall of the user. Studies show that when a number of similar objects or elements are present, the one which differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered.
- The mere exposure effect: Similar to the speakeasy effect, mere exposure relates to familiarity. People like to use things they are familiar with because it enhances their sense of comfort and certainty — whether that be buttons on a website, symbols, objects, or brands. The more often a user interacts with your brand or website, the more comfortable they become using it again and again.
Learn more about how to implement these principles into your website design here.
Copywriter - GippsTech
Zoe Hyde is the copywriter for GippsTech and the programs which it delivers: Work My Own Way and Startup Gippsland.
She is an author of “Uncage the Lion Within”, and has spent years blogging and writing within her own business and as a freelance writer.
Zoe is passionate about building positive relationships with GippsTech clients to create beautiful and professional copy for their website, which reflects their authenticity and who they are. She enjoys speaking to unique audiences and capturing the tone and mission behind the brand or person.
She understands how to ask the right questions and develop rapport with clients in order to truly capture and step into the brand to ensure the written copy speaks from the heart.