Using Psychology to Create Better UX Designs

There’s a logic behind why certain designs attract your eye and get your heart racing. The human brain is sluggish, prejudiced, and prone to taking shortcuts.

The user experience analysis of human cognition can be sloppy, unscientific, and full of incorrect assumptions—possibly due to a lazy brain. Cognition is complicated, and many factors influence gut reactions or first impressions.

This is where comes neuroscience. Interpreting human psychology is the basis for user experience design. It is for this reason that concepts such as user-centered design and user experience regulate the design thinking process.

Understanding the behaviors of the people whose problems you’re attempting to address and developing the user experience to line with those human behaviors are important to UX design psychology.

While traditional research methods such as observation and interviews frequently require the UX designer and participant to make educated guesses, current technology such as eye-tracking enables researchers to investigate practically imperceptible behaviors and preferences.

In the case of high-traffic items, seemingly little elements such as the width of a button or the color contrast of text might mean millions of dollars.

That’s why tech powerhouses like Facebook and Google are starting to apply neuroscience-based methodologies to investigate how users interact with their products.

Cognitive psychology is the study of human psychological processes such as attention and observation, memory, problem-solving, and creative thinking, which serve as the foundation for user experience design.

Great user experience designers understand these human mind processes and how cognitive psychology can assist in overcoming mental barriers to enhance factors like Navigation, Readability, Accessibility, and Usability.

To understand the surrounding environment, including digital items, the human brain is always searching for patterns and identifiable objects.

The Application of Psychology in Design.

Despite accounting for only roughly 2% of the body’s mass, the human brain requires a whopping 25% of its oxygen.

As a survival mechanism, the brain is lazy—pattern recognition and shortcuts entail less energy spent cognitively processing the circumstance.

The brain recognizes, labels, and dismisses things until they become relevant again. The brain’s inclination for patterns and sluggish decision-making may make survival simpler, but it complicates UX design. How do you investigate something that your research subject is unable to perceive?

Several neuroscience methodologies have recently made the transition into UX research, assisting researchers in shedding light on the factors that encourage “rapid thinking.” Eye-tracking cameras can be used to study attention and perception.

Skin sensors or facial analysis can be used to determine emotional reactions and arousal. Electroencephalography can measure the electrical reaction of the brain.

To a UX designer, capturing someone’s attention and conveying crucial information in less than a blink of an eye may appear to be an insurmountable feat.

Fortunately, much as neuroscience can assist us in diagnosing issues, it may also provide general remedies and best practices.

Here are a few broad takeaways from neuroscience user experience research that designers can apply when creating digital goods.

1. My actions are being repeated.

Try to recollect the last time you yawned; most of the time, the person next to you will also yawn. No, yawning isn’t contagious, and there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.

On the flip side, it could be a physiological phenomenon known as the Chameleon Effect, which is a physiological phenomenon known as mirroring reflex.

Remember when you were watching a film or listening to someone speak and you instinctively nodded your head in agreement? Particularly when someone close to you is speaking. You do this to give the impression that you are reacting to and empathizing with the person.

2. Make It Simple to Recognize.

Everyone arrives at a website or app with a preconceived notion of how it should look. Keeping that expectation in mind allows UX designers to benefit from fast subconscious decision-making.

The individual who opens your app or website needs to know two things: a) does it have what they’re looking for, and b) is it of excellent quality.

Keeping designs basic and putting the business, services, and goods front and center help people find their way around.

Putting certain information in the forefront involves keeping other information out of the way. It is just as crucial to declutter a design as it is to re-arrange its components.

You’ll notice a trend among IT businesses toward simpler, less cluttered interfaces. In terms of job completion, these minimalist designs outperform more complicated designs, and visual clarity has been shown to affect both online and offline purchasing decisions.

It has been experimentally proven that designs that are visually basic and clean perform better. The lazy brain can quickly absorb the site’s objective and determine what action to take.

3. Indicate What’s to Come

Priming, or preparing someone for incoming information or contact, can improve the user’s understanding and reaction to new information.

You can prepare someone for things like UI components, certain interactions, or timing in a process.

Yelp, for example, employs an additional screen to notify customers that they are leaving Yelp to access a third-party website.

The added context alerts the user to the fact that a fresh UX design and information architecture are on the way. Priming has a two-edged sword.

Information that you do not want to disclose can still have an impact on decision-making.

For example, if your photography shop exclusively shows photographs of babies, a customer may wrongly assume that you only serve infant clients.

4. That reassurance was much needed.

Have you ever seen a loading screen that was stuck at 99 percent and thought to yourself, “Perhaps I should just wait a little longer,” but that wait never ends, or does it? Okay, maybe it happens now and again, but it has happened to all of us.

Many doctors have asserted that patients are sometimes given medicines that have no therapeutic effect, but the patients believe they are getting clinical care and hence feel better.

The Placebo Effect is the name given to this phenomenon.

You may easily fall victim to it, and the “Pull-to-Refresh” animation is a subtle illustration of this.

Technically, users have no control over the rate at which the page or screen loads, but designers have included that animation to trick users into thinking that a page refresh is taking place and the screen would load quickly.

The reality is that the page or screen will load at the same rate whether or not the user takes that action. The animation is intended to reassure users.

Until no harm is done, certain devious deception can assist designers in increasing user engagement.

5. Prepare for Lazy Readers.

Eye-tracking research can measure a person’s gaze when they engage with a product. They can generate heat maps that illustrate the amount of time spent focusing on one area of the screen, as well as maps that show how the eye moves over the page.

We know that the brain frequently looks for information in an F-pattern across sectors and app kinds (or E-pattern). The person examines the content at the top, then reads to the right and scans the page for important information or icons.

Breaking the F-pattern by UX designers, such as putting vital information at the bottom-right corner, will make it more difficult to find.

6. The Child in the Middle

You’ve probably heard of the middle child syndrome; it’s a psychiatric condition that affects children born after and before another child, i.e. the in-betweeners. Children with this syndrome frequently feel excluded and isolated from their relatives.

When it comes to remembering things, humans exhibit a very similar psychological effect known as the Serial-Position Effect.

This word describes how people tend to remember only the first and last parts of a series they just saw or read, and frequently overlook the middle. This effect is used by UX designers to place objects in a sequence for precise recall.

They use this positioning effect to improve UX, and this impact can be noticed in popular brands such as Nike, Apple, and others.

7. You Have a Familiar Appearance.

You’ve probably seen that consumers choose options that are known to them. For example, those who have used the iPhone tend to stick with it or update only when a better version becomes available; you’d be hard-pressed to find an iPhone user upgrading or moving to an Android experience.

Because of familiarity with the product or experience, humans tend to create this psychological preference. This is called the exposure effect.

Smart designers devise ways for placing CTAs at locations on the screen that are habitual for an ordinary user to look at, or in locations where users navigate their mouse cursor unconsciously.

This is why the “next” button is placed at the top right corner of a webpage.

This is because they know the user will look there for the “home” button. That is why the majority of the call to action buttons are located in the right upper corner. Examples are user profiles and notification icons.

You can develop better products for your users if you understand UX psychology. Design psychology also assists us in comprehending the why behind the product and interface design.

To improve the user experience, we derive numerous UX design concepts from human behavior. However, these are potent psychological instruments that can cause as much harm as benefits.

A good example is how social media businesses utilize design psychology to deceive people and compete for users’ attention for profit.

Knowing more about UX design can help you spot these principles in participants during usability testing. You may notice nonverbal cues that allow you to engage with users and obtain more meaningful feedback.

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