Psychology was my major in college and I went on to get my Master’s degree in media and marketing communication. The combination of the two subjects (Psychology & Marketing) together – consumer behaviour is an area that interests me immensely. You know – how attractive packaging is important for the chocolate bar, the role emotion plays in purchase, the arrangement of the soap in the first row of the supermarket, the positioning of the peppermint candy at the billing queue as bait for “impulse buying”. It fascinates me how psychology plays such an important role in consumer behaviour.
Now that I’m in the web solutions business, the same has translated to consumers of the web and my interest in web design, user experience and the role Psychology plays. Which colours are best? Do colours even matter? What about buttons? Does ‘Click here’ work better than ‘Know more’?
While the understanding of the psyche of the customer is important for a marketer whose aim is to sell a product, it isn’t the aim to sell at any cost by tricking the customer. A marketer’s aim is to understand the customer’s need and solve problems for him by tweaking the product (here, a website design) to get him the solution faster (eg. locating the Login option on a page).
In this post, I’ll share some psychology hacks to help make design user-friendly and thereby boost UX.
Leverage white space
Yes, colour matters. In fact, colours and contrasts both can have an impact on a user.
The psychology: von Restorff Effect also known as the “isolation effect“, predicts that when multiple homogenous stimuli are presented, the stimulus that differs from the rest is more likely to be remembered (definition: Wikipedia)
How to make use of it: What this simply means is if you want something to standout in your design or be remembered, keep it different from the rest. Take a look at this example here below
The multiple homogenous stimuli is your design overall (could be the whitespace). The stimulus (the product) is what you want to make stand out. In our earlier post, we explained how white space could help do this.
Witty, catchy calls-to-action are key
Take a look at the example below & tell me with a straight face you wouldn’t be tempted to push that button
Why is that button so inviting?
The psychology: Reactance theory– which says that if our freedom of choice is threatened, we feel compelled to protect that freedom, making us want the taboo thing even more (source: gizmodo).
How to make use of it: Exactly how Huemor used in it in this design. Of course, it’s important to consider the type of audience, the overall design and the tone of the brand.
Or you could use the psychology of curiosity in your calls-to-action like this one:
Create headlines worth remembering
Headlines are more important than you realise mostly because it’s the first thing a visitor sees on a website and is therefore more likely to remember.
The psychology: The Primacy Effect – The psychological phenomenon associated with memory that says items at the beginning of a list or string of information are more easily recalled than those in the middle. (source: study.com)
How to use it: You want to make sure your titles and headlines are effective and convey exactly what your brand stands for or at least what you want the user to remember like the example below.
Optimize the bottom of the page
Designers and developers often tend to focus so much on the first fold (and rightly so) that the end of the page gets neglected. This is probably because we believe the first fold is most remembered and should be eye catching. What we don’t realise is that the end of the page could be just as important.
The psychology behind it: Recency Effect: (Very similar to the Primacy effect) says that items at the end of a list or string of information are more easily recalled than those in the middle.
How to use it: Make your footers interesting or add information you want your user to remember about your brand. You can even add a call-to-action, in the likelihood that the visitor has scanned main part of your page and by the time he reaches the footer, there is opportunity to seal his decision.
Social proof is half the battle won
Human beings are such that if we see others doing something, we assume it must be the right (or cool) thing to do and so we want to do it too.
The psychology behind it: Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. (Definition: Wikipedia)
How to use it: Capitalise on the user’s search for social proof by displaying genuine testimonials from those who’ve used your product / service. Testimonials along with pictures are impactful. Ensure you keep it brief, though.
A few e-commerce sites use this tactic and you should too.
The psychology behind it: The Urgency Principle: The urge to suspend deliberate thought and act quickly or immediately for the fear of losing out.
The person recognises the importance of the situation as well as experiences bodily responses that make it more likely to act.
How to use it: One of the problems with conversions are cognitive friction – the user waits too long, can’t decide, gets distracted etc. To avoid this and increases chances of conversion, urgency is important. There are a couple of ways you can create urgency to increase conversions or purchase. You could add a counter or a ticker with ‘x Days to go’ or you could show scarcity with ‘Only 1 item left in stock’.
The trick to boost UX and ultimately improve conversions is to understand the psyche of the visitor. Years of study in the field of Psychology has enabled us to understand and predict behaviour across fields and industries including the web industry. It’s quite interesting how a few tweaks can steer a user to make a purchase or click a button. Ensure you’re doing it right.
There’s probably more we’re yet to explore. Do you know any more psychology hacks to improve UX? Share it with us in the comments below!
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