Gestalt Principles

Part of my reading in my UX/UI class this week was about Gestalt Principles of Visual Perception. In which, a group of German psychologist wanted to understand human visual perception. The principles that they came up with are known as the Gestalt Principles (GP), Gestalt is the German word for “shape” or “figure”, hence the visual connection. It’s interesting to learn the psychology behind a lot of the ways human perceive objects and how that can influence the way we design interfaces: such as through framework; interface practice; and as a barometer for unintended visual relationships.

Gestalt Principles

As a framework, the GP provides a universal way for designers to have a basic understanding of how visual perception works and how it can be used to influence users in design. By understanding closure, continuity, symmetry and the rest of the principles designers can better create work that uses human senses to further their design objectives.

As an interface practice, GP helps designers to better develop software that builds on these principles. With software, there is also the idea that it is non-static, so it has that element to consider as well... depth of perception. Things such as dialogue boxes have to know how to group buttons and other information so that what is being visually communicated is being perceived in a way that it is meant to be. It also helps to clarify meaning when words are not being used. In the example below, the Mac OS groups the orientation, so that people know there are three options from which to choose.

Another major concerns with any design is that something is seen as relational that really has no bearing on what is trying to be conveyed. Instead of the text fields and input fields being in proximity to each, in the example below, the information is being grouped in a way that can confuse the user. (see example below). Here the text fields should be closer to the input fields, to visually convey that the information goes together.

In conclusion, GP helps designers by creating a framework for visual communication, in which they can create a standard. It also provides a way for interfaces to be clearer in the interpretations and meanings. With websites today and apps, people are visually learners if they are not being helped by what they see, then they are being hurt. And finally, GP provides a manner by which testing can occur and designers can see if they have unintended meanings in there work.