With the abundance of consumer options we have today, it is hard to know what we really want. Burdened by an overload in choice, there is a huge demand for uniqueness and simplification. All the more reason for businesses and designers to amp up their game and make their product or service user-friendly as well as stand out from the crowd. Like Steve Jobs said: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them” – so it is time to provide some relief and understand the psychology of UX design.
Psychology of UX Design – How is user satisfaction affected by the subconscious.
With the abundance of consumer options we have today, it is hard to know what we really want. Burdened by an overload in choice, there is a huge demand for uniqueness and simplification. All the more reason for businesses and designers to amp up their game and make their product or service user-friendly as well as stand out from the crowd. Like Steve Jobs said: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them” – so it is time to provide some relief.
One of the ways user experience designs focus on user satisfaction is by employing consumer psychology to ease the decision-making process – on a subconscious level. If you’ve ever felt drawn to a certain website without really knowing why, you may have succumbed to the grasping hold of psychology-imbedded marketing strategies. This essential part of the UX design process has helped many websites improve their conversion rate. We will look into this further on.
Businesses implement consumer psychology to trigger human emotions, motivations and behaviors by exposing users to their general preferences, whether it be in colors, patterns or styles, to subconsciously draw (see what I did there?) them into using their service or product. So when we are designing our sites and apps we need to think of how we can influence them to complete the “required user tasks”, such as purchase, download, sign-up or to get in contact.
Having personally studied human psychology for four(!) years, let me share how several bamboozling – but research-supported – methods tickle our psyche which can make us susceptible to these strategic displays.
Psychology of UX Design – How Shape and Contour Affect Consumer Perception
According to Moishe Bar and Maital Neta, we, humans have a natural disliking to sharp-angled objects. This is because sharp angles are associated with dangerous objects, such as knives or scissors, and trigger feelings of threat and danger, whereas contoured elements make us feel more comfortable and assured.
The popularity of contoured elements in design is also explained by the fact that sharp corners affect our visual salience: the image looks…sharper (no pun intended), which taxes cognitive effort – and let’s just say users will want to avoid using their head too much.
Feeling anxious yet? Da-dum…da-dum…
Simply google “logo” and check out the myriad of designs implementing rounded silhouettes. This is because curved shapes tend to cast out a positive emotional vibe, which consumers pick up on: they suggest friendship, unity and trust.
Disney’s good ol’ curvy logo.
So when designing websites or logos, it may be better to opt for contoured designs if the message you are trying to convey is to invite consumers into using your service.
Psychology of UX Design – How Spatial Structure Influences User Experience
“Images are preferred when their structure mirrors that of natural scenes” say Stephen Palmer and his colleagues. We may not all be tree-hugging nature-lovers, but we do have an innate evolutionary preference for serene and symmetrical displays. Not only do we prefer natural and tranquil designs, we respond well to rustic scenery, presumably because of their simplicity and straightforward navigation.
To give websites a clean and simple look, many web designers use white spacing around the content of their websites, which also draws the attention towards the content rather than the border.
A clear and serene-looking website.
Psychology og UX Design – How Colors Impact User Impression
Humans are visual creatures, but that doesn’t mean we need to bombard our websites with an intense color pallet. The idea that colors can influence our subconscious actually stems from a rather sketchy form of therapy: color therapy, where “wearing the wrong color can make you feel out of sorts with yourself” – right.
On a serious note though, colors are critical for setting the tone of a website: Black, brown, dark or neutral colors emphasize professionalism and make websites look honest and reliable. Interactive websites will use a visually-engaging and inviting color scheme, such as greens, cyans and blues to attract visitors in using their service.
Stephen Palmer and his colleagues also concluded that adults prefer higher color saturation in context-free sections, similar to Gmail’s background display. This is because users often feel that saturated images are too vivid, which add a mental load that consumers cannot be burdened with, hence designers opt for low opacity, low saturation, content boxes.
Gmail’s inbox display.
Noteworthy is the contrast in border between Gmail’s inbox display and the previous website image: strong color saturation vs. white spacing. Background pictures are popular for customizing user’s inbox pages, and reducing saturation in the content box is a clever solution to make the text readable. Personally, however, I feel that Gmail’s display is rather cluttered; my preference goes to the white spaced website.
Psychology of UX Design – Summing it all up
Shapes, contours, spatial structures and colors can all subliminally influence our state of mind, and trigger a variety of emotions, motivations and behaviors, which are used as marketing strategies in attempt to seduce oblivious consumers in using a service or website.
When designing products or websites we should incorporate shapes, structures and colors which are favorable to our consumers – depending of course on the type of consumer we are trying to attract. Curved, structured and neutral designs are favored by most individuals and should be opted for making websites looking clean, structured and attractive.
Although many users have a general preference for particular shapes or colors, it remains a general estimate, and fact is: despite their popularity, there’s just too little proof that the psychology of UX design and marketing strategies are directly related to higher sales and customer satisfaction. We all have our individual and subjective motivations behind our decisions, so when it really comes down to it: we simply can’t make everybody happy.