The psychology behind UX (and why you need it)

“User experience is everything. It always has been, but it’s still undervalued and under-invested in. If you don’t know user-centred design, study it. Hire people who know it. Obsess over it. Live and breathe it. Get your whole company on board.” — Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter

Thanks to the carefully-constructed and well-researched field of user experience design (UX), people using tech follow certain predetermined paths. Although perhaps without realising it (which is kind of the point), they’re constantly being guided towards their next click, tap or eye-controlled movement (it’s coming). The various combinations of possible steps have all been pre-empted and planned for.

Apply this info to your audience and you’ll soon learn how you can employ UX to guide them along the path of your choice.

What’s it to you?

Fact: Your company needs to have a deep understanding of consumer wants and needs. A UX specialist translates these wants and needs into design that complements human psychology when it comes to interacting with technology.

UX 101

As Steve Jobs told us, “design is not how it looks but actually how it works”. UX is responsible for:

· Paving the way: Showing users how to complete your goals.

· Making achieving your goals worth your users’ while.

· Working with people’s laziness. No task should take more than three clicks to complete.

· Creating urgency. Scarcity works wonders.

· Planning for decision fatigue. Offer fewer choices or suggest the ideal one.

· Providing room for error. People make click-mistakes. Clever UX gets people back on track.

· Triggering emotion and working subconscious wonders.

Nudge, don’t push

“A user interface is like a joke — if you have to explain it, it’s not that good.” — Martin LeBlanc

Guiding your audience on the path that best suits you is all good and well, as long as it ends there. Although it’s tempting to go full tilt when conversions are the honest end goal, there’s a lot to be said for restraint and erring on the side of the nudge over a push.

A nudge would be taking advantage of subconscious processing, which allows your users to journey through your site naturally, with well thought out UX acting as a subtle guide.

A push would be using something called dark patterns. These are user interfaces specifically designed to trick people and must be avoided at all costs. What you want to do is gently pave the way, then reap the rewards. Earn, don’t take.

The line is fine — that doesn’t mean you can forget it’s there.

UX is not a free-for-all

As with designing, writing and coding, not everyone can ‘just do’ UX. It takes innate talent, learned skill and years of experience. It’s worth using someone who knows how to play and craft in this particular realm of digital wizardry.

by Nicole Samakosky, Content Strategist at Cavalry Media


Cavalry Media is a design, development and content marketing agency based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cavalry services both local and international clients across the banking, insurance and retail sectors.

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