Have you ever landed on a website and immediately felt turned off? Sometimes it’s really obviously chaotic and overwhelming, other times it just feels out of place or even is disorienting. In all likelihood, you left the website. Plus, you probably didn’t bother to look at whatever product or service that brought you to the website in the first place.
It’s Not Them it’s You
This happens to users when designers don’t pay attention to human psychology. It doesn’t matter what you’re designing; without paying attention to the way the human mind works, you’ll be lucky to make your design work.
It also follows when you have an understanding of human psychology you can leverage it to create a positive user experience. The kind of experience that nurtures customer trust, loyalty, and referrals.
Get Down with the Basics
Before you work with our design team, it’s a good idea to get familiar with at least the following four basic psychological principals:
- Gestalt Psychology
- Hick’s Law
- Miller’s Law
- Jakob’s Law.
Gestalt Psychology is anchored in the idea that we make sense of things by seeing it as a whole instead of in small parts. It’s how our brains sort and organize information.
Take this Yoga Australia logo. It plays with the Gestalt Psychology principle of figure-ground to make a smart logo that communicates the brands two main focuses. We have the girl in a yoga pose. Then in the negative space created by the arm and leg, you can see the shape of the Australian continent.
It’s smart. It’s simple. It understands people.
Clever Simplicity is the Key
Next is Hick’s Law. Hick’s law states “the time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices available”.
This might seem like a duh moment. And really, it should.
The problem is we tend to be people pleasers. Our people pleaser selves want to give other’s as many options as possible. We’re hoping one or two or three options will be exactly what they want. And the more we offer what people like the more sales we’ll make.
But it doesn’t work. You open the closet door to a kid and ask them what they want to wear. The kid doesn’t say the blue shirt, please. They’ll run away from you refusing to choose. Alternatively, you hold up two shirts and tell them to pick one. The kid will pick one.
As designers, you need to be thinking like a parent. Use your design to guide users through the decision-making process as simply and quickly as possible.
Chunk the Info or Customers will Chuck it
Miller’s Law states the average person can only keep about seven items going in their working memory at a time. A lot of designers will take this very literally and only have seven menu items, seven pictures, seven, seven, seven.
The focus of Miller’s law is really in the idea of chunking or otherwise grouping information. Chunking makes it easier for people to remember and use information.
The better you become at this, the better you’ll be at designing just about everything.
Users Expect the Expected
Last but not least is Jakob’s Law. To put it simply – users develop an expectation of design patterns based on their past experience from other websites they frequent.
These expectations are more formally called mental models. When you deviate from the mental models of your ideal customer you create mental model discordance. Which is just a fancy way of saying your customer will be annoyed with you because it’s “not working”.
Does this mean you can’t be innovative? Of course not. But it does mean you need to be smart. You need to ensure your ideal customer doesn’t have to start their mental model from scratch when navigating your website.
The number one function of a design is to make information accessible and understandable to your customer.
Utilizing human psychology in your design with the help of branding and design experts will make the impact you need to stand out.