Psychology Elements in Visual Design

Bayu Ferdian
Aug 13 · 5 min read
Photo of colourful juices in the cute bottles, held by hands.
Photo of colourful juices in the cute bottles, held by hands.
Do you know what’s the liquid in the bottle? It doesn’t matter, right now your brain might adoring this photo. Right? Photo source

Hi, folks! Did you ever wonder why people wowed by beautiful paintings? Or adore cute plush toys? Or some good looking food photos on Instagram?

Turns out there are scientific explanations behind them! Let’s talk about two of them, called The Visceral Beauty and The Halo Effect. I will also talk about how does these two relate to User Interface Design.

What is Visceral Beauty?

Vvis·cer·al

/ˈvis(ə)rəl/

Visceral meaning: “Based on emotional reactions rather than on reason or thought.”

Visceral Beauty is a perspective of beauty based on emotion or feeling we couldn’t explain. Most people able to tell if something is beautiful or not, but they couldn’t explain why. That is because this visceral is a thing for the unconscious part of our mind.

This scenery photo is beautiful. We might agree on this. But each person could explain it differently.

Let’s see some examples around us. Check your smartphone. What do you like the most about it? Even if your consideration is mostly about the tech-specs, at some point you also consider how it looks, either its shape or the UI. Am I right?


What is the Halo Effect?

Ha·lo

/hey-lo/

The term “halo” is used in analogy with the religious concept: a glowing circle that can be seen floating above the heads of saints in countless medieval and Renaissance paintings.

an image snapped from a real paintings named “The risen Christ appearing to the Eleven (Luke 24,36–49)”
an image snapped from a real paintings named “The risen Christ appearing to the Eleven (Luke 24,36–49)”
“The risen Christ appearing to the Eleven (Luke 24,36–49)” Image is taken from here

The term “halo effect” was coined in 1920 by Edward L. Thorndike, an American psychologist. The halo effect is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about his or her character.

For those who studied art & design must be familiar with this term: Form Follow Function, right? The term suggested that the form or shape of an object need to and will be caused by how they will function. It means that the object could be very useful or powerful even if it does not have good looks.

But the scientist found out people perceives it differently. People thought the good looking product will work better than the average or the ugly one. Weirdly, it also applies to other things. For instance, a good looking person usually perceived as smart and nice. Vice versa.

Physical Attractiveness Stereotypes
Physical Attractiveness Stereotypes
Image is taken from here

Most people thinks the good looking product will work better than the average or the ugly one.


Why Is It Important?

Remember this phrase: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? This sentence meant to encourage us not to assuming people or things by its surface looks. But unconsciously, the human does that judgment by default in our brain like a reflex. That’s why we are naturally drawn into something beautiful, either it is visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

With this definition then it is very normal for people to adore beautiful paintings or sculpture, the shape of supercars, IKEA furniture, well-made commercials, website design and of course, User Interface design of a mobile app.

These two principles have been used for many many years in the industry. In the commercials, graphic designs, industrial design, architecture, interior and more. These two factors help the consumer to pick the right products or make them feels they did.

Very nice furniture, lamp and it feels cozy
Dribbble.com website design
Dribbble.com website design
Dribbble has Lovers and Haters at the same time.

Because an object has been beautifully designed, it will attract human instinct and drive them into thinking that the object has the best quality, powerful, and other perceived positive criteria.

I assumed hiring managers (with no design background) who are looking for UX designers will fall in love with the endless pretty UI exploration in Dribbble.com. Correct me if I’m wrong.

This car looks so powerful and cool. Can you hear the car sound in your mind? Photo source

The Takeaways

So, what’s in it for us designer after we know about those two? Here are some of the suggestions from the writer of The Smarter Screen, Shlomo Bernatzi:

  1. For trustworthy and to ensure your product has the perceived usability, Design your product prettier. This is where Dribbble comes in handy, but take it with some grain and salt.
  2. When you presenting your work to your client, dress up. An attractive or good looking person most of the time will be perceived as smart and nice.
  3. Since beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, the beauty standard could vary from one country to another. We need to understand the context and the culture of that place. In short, understanding your user will help your product.
  4. Shlomo suggested that if you test your website to the sample of the audience either for 5 milliseconds or 5 seconds, their impression about your product won’t change. So, if you are familiar with The Five Second Test, you could ask your participant how they see your product or website.

Let’s Discuss

So, what do you think about this article? If you have anything in mind, write some response :).

Source

The Smarter Screen Book by Shlomo Bernatzi

Cambridge Dictionary — Visceral

VeryWellmind — Halo Effect

HealthLine — Halo Effect


Hey, Folks!

Giza Design Lab is an Indonesian design agency with Human-Centered Design approaches. We help companies to level up their product experiences to get more love from their customer. Want us to help your design project? Send email to info@gizadesignlab.com and Follow us on Instagram

GizaLab

Behind the scenes, journal and stories about a UX Agency based on Bandung, Indonesia

Bayu Ferdian

Written by

UX Consultant at GizaDesignLab.com | UXiD Bandung

GizaLab

GizaLab

Behind the scenes, journal and stories about a UX Agency based on Bandung, Indonesia

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