Psychology of UI/UX design (part 1) – 9 key principles designers should know

Psychology of UI/UX Design - 9 Principles Designers Should Know

A good UI/UX design must help users easily retain the information they see, take action quickly, and indulge in digital experiences. To ensure this basic rule of thumb, a designer must know how people interact with digital products and how their actions can be influenced by applying the science of human behaviour. 

We will discuss a few methodologies that elicit specific responses from online visitors and can be used in creating immersive UI/UX experiences: 

  1. Chameleon Effect 

To become like someone as you see in your surrounding is termed as mirroring or chameleon effect. Human beings have a strong need to belong and form relationships. To satiate this need to belong they may imitate the actions of people around them. Let’s say, if you are surrounded with avid readers, you may decide to take up reading as a hobby. There are strong evidences of online users mirroring actions of each other. For example, a website that wants you to enroll in their workshop will showcase the number of enrolmentson their web page. Seeing the figures might convince you about the validity of the course, and you may decide to make the payment. Another famous example is the Duolingo app that uses chameleon effect with its bird mascot; if a user skips their language lesson, the bird cries intending to make the user feel guilty. As a result, the user goes back to taking lessons. Emotional triggers usually lead users to take desired action. 

  1. Von Restorff Effect 

According to Hedwig von Restorff, when people see a list of items and one item is different from others, people most are likely to remember the unique one. It is also known as the isolation effect because users may remember the isolated item. There are different ways this effect can improve user experience. For example, the call to action (CTA) can be written in a distinct colour from the rest of the elements. Also, the effect is widely used on pricing pages of websites to highlight a plan that is most recommended or is a bestseller. 

  1. The principle of perpetual habit 

As per the principle of perpetual habits, people prefer familiarity or routines more. Routines tend to become a habit over time, and people are likely stick to their habits. When it comes to UI/UX, designers must be careful that they do not create designs that go against user habits. It is best to stick to some standards to create a good design. For example, if you change the design of the hamburger icon or settings icon on your appit will result in a poor user experience. A user is habituated u to seeing the settings icon on top-right of an app and menu bar on the top-left; swapping the two will confuse the user. 

Gestalt theory 

The Gestalt perceptions were developed by German psychologists in the 1920s. Gestalt means form or shape in German. These ideologies are based on how a human brain always wants to build patterns while looking at distorted shapes, clouds, or even wide blank spaces. These are the most popular principles that show how design and psychology are linked. 

Gestalt principles that can help UI designers today are: 

  1. Proximity 

In a group of objects, users perceive objects placed close to each other as related. Here’s an example, 

a. Britney 44 California          b. Britney 44 California 

From point A, people are likely to perceive Britney, 44 years old, is from California, whereas in point B, the three elements appear unrelated. Designers can use this law to group related components together so that users do not get confused while navigating a website or an app. 

  1. Similarity 

Elements with visual similarities can be grouped together regardless their proximity.

Cristiano Ronaldo Mike Trout LeBron James 
 Nolan Arenado  
Lionel Messi Jacob deGrom Michael Jordan 
Harry Kane Cody Bellinger  
Phile Foden  Anthony Davis 
  Devin Booker 
  1. Continuity 

The principle of continuity states that elements arranged in a line give a visual perception of continuity or a direction. An example is Amazon’s recommendation list when you purchase an item. It’s a linear list of suggestions; users perceive the products listed in a continuous pattern are related. 

  1. Closure 

Gestalt’s principle of closure states that a human brain tries to simplify complex patterns by filling in the missing parts. The brain will itself fill the missing spots of an image/pattern to make it recognisable. A popular example is the logo of IBM, where our brain automatically recognizes the stripe patterns to be the alphabetical shapes of I, B, and M. 

  1. Focal point 

In a group of elements, a distinctive element will stand out and hold a viewer’s attention. It is similar to the Von Restorff effect and is used to grab viewers’ attention to desired components by making them stand out. 

  1. Common fate 

Objects or elements that move in the same direction are seen as more related than those moving in a different direction. A great way to use this principle in UI/UX design is for expandable menus, and swipe indicators. 

A UI/UX design is about blending creativity and psychology so that users easily communicate with digital products. By following the given principles, you can deliver a good user experience, which is the primary goal of every design.

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