Design is responsible not only for the product look and feel, but for the user’s behaviour as well. It has the power to elicit specific responses and actions from users. The same way a design built without taking into account psychological patterns of human perception and behaviour leads to misunderstanding and confusion. The worst thing the bad design can do — make a user feel like a fool. Here are a few psychological tips, tricks, laws, principles- whatever you want to call it — of crafting an intuitive, user-centered design that ensures smooth user journey:
- Hick’s Law
The more choices a user has the more time they need to make a decision.
Imagine you want to buy blue jeans. You come to the shop and here are they — a perfect pair. You make a purchase.
Now let’s say there are about 30 pairs of blue jeans in a shop. You want to choose the best. To make sure you will make the right choice you start thinking, trying on, looking at the mirror.
It is Hick’s Law in action. When we have a choice, we start to weigh the benefits of a decision. You can make the interface more user-friendly and effective by removing unnecessary actions. Make a target action simple, keep any options like menus and buttons to a minimum, and provide broad categories and subcategories to ensure simple content architecture.
2. Selective Disregard
Average users instinctively ignore what they consider irrelevant.
Banners were one of the first types of advertisement gained popularity in the nineties — websites got additional profit by showing promotional images. The banners distracted and irritated users so they adapted and start ignoring them. As a result, 86% of users have developed “banner blindness”.
Users notice only what their brain mark as “relevant”. The more information and elements there are on the page, the more of them a user has to ignore.
You can catch users attention by creating uncluttered pages with few elements. They are easy to process and take a little effort to achieve a user’s goals. Ensure that everything the user sees on the screen has a purpose.
3. Change Blindness
People often don’t notice new visual details due to the limitation of human’s attention.
It occurs when changes are not visually emphasized enough. Users can end up not finding necessary action buttons, missing error messages, or misunderstanding whether the information on the page has already been updated.
To prevent change blindness design must communicate with users and signal changes in an obvious way: provide continuous feedback, avoid page refreshes, emphasize changed elements strongly.
4. The Von Restorff Effect
Among the multiple similar objects distinctive ones are more likely to be remembered.
Important elements must be emphasized to drag the user’s attention but be careful not to overload an interface with them so users won’t lose their focus. One or two visually strong things on the page are enough to signal the users what the users must pay attention to and make UX process more smooth.
5. Fitts’ Law
The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.
Originally stated according to the movement in the physical world, Fitts’ law is now applied to the way a user interacts with an interface using a cursor or any other pointer. Simply put, the more is the distance to the target (some button, for example) — the longer is the movement, and the less is the size of the target — again, the longer is the movement.
For example, pop-up menus let the user make the selection faster as they don’t have to move the cursor from the current position.
Reduce the distances between elements while keeping the proportions and free space and make sure the target object is large enough for quick detection and easy selection.
You can’t build a good design without understanding how users see, think, and behave. And sometimes they do it in a completely different way that designers suppose to. Knowing psychological principles of user perception and behaviour helps build practical, emotion-evoking design. Applying them, you can craft products that align with users’ expectations and ensures the success in achieving the desired result.
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