To Effect and Affect: Building A Psychology-Driven UI/UX Design

How many times have you encountered a website so bland, it didn’t take you more than 5 seconds to close your browser window; or one that struck you so much, it made you want to instantly fill out that sign up page?

Just when you thought you know a lot because you’ve read our color and logo psychology guides, here’s a deeper and even more interesting take on design — the psychology behind an effective UI/UX.

The Fault in Our Thinking Machines

web designer

Well, not a debilitating fault, per se — what we’re pointing out here is that human cognition tends to be founded on emotions, rather than logic.

And we know that the latter is crucial for making sound decisions. 

So why exactly do people still go the emotional way of thinking? Oftentimes, our brains are wired to think using feelings when making quick impressions, as much as we try to go down the more logical route. 

Neuroscience is responsible for this.

It’s not anymore surprising that more brands (including Google and Facebook) are using neuroscience-based design techniques. But to help us better understand these, let’s go back to some basics. Here are 3 key theories that guide design decisions:

1. The Chameleon Effect 

Have you ever wondered what a possible explanation could be for your sudden inclination to imitate other people during an interaction? This is known as the Chameleon Effect

An interesting fact is that most of the time, it happens unconsciously. You do an action or utter a word to match those of other people within the same environment. This explains why you adopt distinctive speech accents after you’ve lived in a country for quite some time. 

When we interact with products, the same thing can happen — the smallest details could give the biggest impact, especially on common user behavior. Your overall UI/UX design, including your copies, have the power to mirror back something that’s familiar to them, whether your content sounds like a friend, family member, or a boss that always gets on their nerves.

2. Priming

This is one of the oldest media theories out there that marketers and designers use up until now. Priming is a concept through which our decisions are influenced by current information stored in our memory. The preconceptions we have, partnered with the new information we retain from various media, enable us to make quick choices or judgments. This is exactly why they’re used as persuasion tools of most brands — most, if not all advertisements, utilize priming to help customers make purchase decisions.

3. Miller’s Law

George Miller’s information processing theory puts emphasis on the ‘chunking’ of information to improve short-term memory retention. In terms of UX design, organizing information is useful for better recall and an enhanced experience. Take Spotify’s homepage for example — having songs and artists clustered into separate categories is way better than seeing endless, randomized lists.

4. The Aesthetic Usability Effect

Last but not least, the aesthetic-usability effect. 

Design is obviously nothing without aesthetics. In fact, users tend to perceive more attractive products as more usable. Due to these higher expectations, they’ll often blame themselves if they have a bad experience with your product or page, then bounce.

This is why more than having great visuals, understanding users’ cognitive behavior and motivators for interacting with your brand is also critical. 

UI/UX Design Principles

user experience and user interface

We’ve tackled the theories — it’s time to weave them into various UI/UX design principles.

  • Simplicity is key. Don’t go overboard with design elements. The more elements you show users, the longer it will take them to arrive at a decision. This isn’t good news in the digital space, where everything needs and breathes speed.
  • Make everything accessible. No one wants to fight the big-window war where it will take a finger cramp before they can click a button. Chunk your categories, keep your navigation bar handy, and create a layout that keeps all essential information within arms’ (or mouse pointer’s) reach. This also helps users be masterful in navigating your webpage, improving information retention at the same time.
  • Incorporate clear messaging. Clear and compelling messaging connects you to your audiences on a deeper, more personal level. Steer clear of messaging that contradicts your branding and the emotional appeal you want to get across. And while injecting a bit of humor into your copies helps break the ice, too much of it — or crossing the border to insensitivity — may fend off users rather than engage them.
  • Match everything to your brand’s image. Finally, be sure to keep everything cohesive to your branding guidelines and your overall image. This ensures that you stay on top of users’ minds, and become their go-to brand for solutions to their needs.

Final Thoughts

Your UI/UX design isn’t just about putting together elements and crossing your fingers that it will work — you also need to delve deeper into the science behind it, and what major factors drive users’ judgment, social behavior, and even cognitive function when making decisions.

That being said, we can be your partners in building a functional, effective, and psychology-backed UI/UX design. Talk to us today to learn more!

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