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How Psychology Affects User Experience

March 1, 2016

User ExperiencePsychology is essential when it comes to graphic design and web development. Often, companies
 are too concerned about having a pretty website and have little concern for the psychology of their design choices. Humans respond to content at a basic — that is, physiological and psychological — level without even realizing it. This blog seeks to shine light on five important things to remember about human psychology and the direction they should give your user experience design and planning. 

  1. People are lazy. Nobody wants to spend extra time or energy trying to figure out what you do, why you do it, what they get, or how you solve their problem. One of the most common problems I see in today’s websites is that there is no clear explanation of what the company does, and to get basic information you have to sort through multiple pages. Today’s users are trained to move on to another search if they can’t immediately find what they're looking for. Don’t make people think — give them the answers they want immediately or they WILL move on to your competitor.

Tip: I strongly recommended using a site such as user testing to see how people are reacting to your website. These user tests shine a light on design issues and help you prevent spending huge amounts of money on a redesign that won't get conversions.

  1. People are easily distracted. When you create content, keep in mind that the internet is a very distracting place. At any given moment you are competing with adorable puppies and funny Buzz Feed articles that can often be more alluring than your complicated software solution or business discussion. Keep your text concise and give it a voice that is appealing and somewhat entertaining versus a robotic and standard 5-paragraph page. Most importantly, don’t put too many different topics on one page — it can make your user lose focus.
  2. People make mistakes and break things. Often, when it comes to testing your user website navigation, you’ll see that your users click on things that you wouldn’t think to click on and that are, in fact, not designed to be clicked on at all. Learn how your user navigates your site — where are they clicking? (You can use analytics for this.) You’ll be surprised at the most common areas that people are clicking. Recently, during our own test, we discovered that users were clicking the title text instead of the big button that indicated a call-to-action. Since the title itself was not originally configured to be the link, we had to make some adjustments to provide a better user experience. Identify the areas where users are behaving differently than expected and edit accordingly.
  3. People are social creatures. They like to help and engage with each other, which is what makes social media so successful. Give people the opportunity to share your content and engage their friends/colleagues with the relevant things you have to say. Additionally, use social media and the sway that you have there to establish thought leadership. People are more likely to trust you if they see a lot of people engaging with your content and following your advice.
  4. Most of our thinking is unconscious. The brain is a magical thing that is always working. Our brains are, in a way, broken down into 3 brains — the old brain, the emotional brain, and the new brain. The old brain makes decisions based on our primitive needs (food, sex, safety, etc.). This brain developed first, during times of human need for survival. It is the part of the brain that assesses survival. This part of the brain makes it so that anytime the word "you" is used, you immediately focus. The emotional brain is impulsive and seeks to process emotions; the new brain focuses on rational reasoning and processing imagery. Things you aren't consciously considering often affect our behavior. When a website acknowledges all three brains, you're engaging with users at the optimum level.

If a website is visually appealing, we will pay attention. If it relates to our problems and pains, we will continue to connect. Focusing on the three brains and their triggers (food, danger, movement, change, visuals/imagery, and a focus on "you") will help you make good web design decisions, which will entice users to like and engage with your website, content, and product.

So as you embark on your next redesign journey, keep human psychology in mind as the defining factor for success or failure.

Darling Jimenez
Written by Darling Jimenez

Darling Jimenez is a passionate graphic and web designer committed to delivering on time products that can generate leads and provide a friendly user experience. With more than 5 years of experience, she loves to stay on top of the latest design and marketing trends.

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