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UX – influence of psychology on designing websites and applications

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Theoretically, we all know that psychological activities are exclusively related to human beings and relationships. With the development of technology, which is a huge part of our lives, researchers go beyond stereotypical areas. Today’s human communication is much more often done through electronic devices. Psychology tries to follow the spirit of the times, and more and more often the objects with which we interact are in the center of its interest. Understanding and combining two areas – psychology and technology – is key to the success of business websites and applications.

 

What is UX?

 

The creator of the term UX is a cognitive psychologist Prof. Don A. Norman

According to his definition, the UX is a field of science and practice that focuses on the user experience when using an interactive product. This area provides knowledge about how to design a product so that the user experience is as positive as possible. It strikes a balance between customer needs, design content and technological capabilities. It ensures the user will enjoy the product, while keeping ease and efficiency of use with cultural fit.

 

How psychology can help to design business websites?

 

user experience

 

In web design, knowledge of cognitive psychology is very useful. It is worth distinguishing its components such as: perception, memory, problem-solving and creative thinking. 

 

Let’s start with one of the most important experiments. 

 

We all heard about the well – known ‘action-reaction’ pattern experiment with Pavlov’s dog. 

 

Although we’re different from dogs, we have one similarity in how we learn. Pavlov’s dogs knew that ringing the bell means that the food is coming. In the same way, people learn simple action. If our tongue is dry, we drink water or if we click a ‘Features’ button on a website, we get the proper information.

 

How can this rule be applied in UX design? Simple. For example to improve navigation by creating the buttons that expect more user’s attention using the right color. This will help users to be more determined to press it.

 

Let’s take a look at another interesting experiment how people remember general experience rather than details. 

Researchers from Tufts University and Brown University asked the participants to: 

  • draw a U.S penny without any help
  • draw a penny with a list of visual features
  • choose from the list visual features that appear on a penny
  • chose the wrong features from a given drawing of a penny 
  • select the correct drawing from given drawings

 

Although a U.S. penny is used in the everyday life of Americans, the results were surprisingly poor. 

The research concluded that people do not recognize anything about this object except its general value. This is because of memory limitation, a phenomenon in cognitive psychology. 

 

Emotions

 

Another significant element of realizing how psychology can help design business websites is to understand that the user’s experience is very strongly connected with various emotions. 

Research indicates that emotions are integral to decision-making processes. Emotions appear before the decision – affecting its dimension, but also after the decision is made – showing the level of satisfaction with the decision made.

A poorly designed UX can cause annoyance, anger and frustration in the user, which, for example in the context of online shops, will have a negative impact on the consumer choice. Moreover, a negative experience not only prevents your users from being able to effectively use your product, it also affects your credibility and image. 

However, a well-designed UX will be strongly associated with experiencing positive emotions. In order to be able to make your users “happy” you need to have a clear idea of the needs of the intended audience. Different factors generate different reactions in different individuals, therefore it’s important to design for the needs/expectations of your users.

 

Now, let’s go to the heart of the matter. Take a look at 4 specific examples of using psychology in UX. 

 

Hick’s law

 

According to Hick’s Law users need more time to make decisions the more choice they have. As far as we know the decision you are making relates to what you called “worth it.” 

How do we use this knowledge? Based on that Law, while designing the below website, Trawnikserwis, we know that presenting a simple option of the service does not distract the users and make their choice “worth it”. 

 

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Psychology of colors

 

According to a study on color and psychological functioning colors are a huge tool that attracts attention, affects the mood and can also influence psychological reactions of users. 

How do we use this knowledge?  When we were designing the Muscat website (please see below), we paid attention to choose the color blue. The research on color perception shows that blue color is linked to such features as: trust, peace or loyalty that is compatible with the stated company values.

 

digital design

 

Memory limitation

 

As we mentioned before memory is not always reliable. Due to our thoughts, feelings and surrounding environment – storing information is reconstructed. Our working memory capacity is around 15 -30 seconds, remembering only 5-9 items at a time.  Feel free to check yourself here by doing a digit span test. 

It’s significant to build designs based on the brain’s habit, or mental models (described in the next point) because they are easier to remember. 

How do we use this knowledge? Our good practice is displaying the contact number divided into max three elements which helps users dial the number faster and correctly. 

 

ux designer

 

Mental models

 

These models are created based on people’s expectations and experiences of the world. As users we have formed mental models of how to interact with and what to expect from interfaces. 

How do we use this knowledge? Designing websites/applications we are strongly aware that people expect similar navigation (as highlighted below), interactions (a site’s logo to link back to the home page)  and terminology throughout their experiences. 

 

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Use psychology to design smartly

 

Psychology has a huge impact on designed websites or applications. Different fields of psychology can be a goldmine of information and ideas for UX designers and researchers. 

Based on certain principles of psychology, it can make it easier to design simpler solutions for users.  With this knowledge, human behavior is easier to understand. Moreover, understanding psychology in the process of creating websites/applications gives the possibility to achieve more effective and enjoyable experiences for users and, consequently, the greater success of any business.  

The presented methods of using psychology in UX are only a few examples of what we implement in the digital products we develop for our clients. Go to our portfolio to see more or check out our Dribbble profile

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