Our role as designers has evolved so much over the last few years that we need to be constantly aware of many things.
One of the most important things to be aware of is the user’s behavior on your product or website.
Every designer in today’s world must learn the basics of psychology.
Instead of forcing people to use a product or experience it in a certain way, designers need to find out how people use and interact with different digital interfaces.
Some of the basic principles of psychology can help you design more intuitive, human-centered products and experiences that you can apply to your future projects.
We all know that people make decisions about how we perceive and process the world around us according to a main plan.
This article will help you figure out that plan by giving you simple but useful tips from psychology.
“The more choices you give a user, the longer it takes to make a decision.”
When people are given too many choices, it takes them longer to understand and decide what to do.
Choices aren’t necessarily a bad thing either, but giving a user too many options to choose from can overwhelm them and increase their bounce rate.
An Example of Hick’s Law: Zapper
If you look at the zapper below, you can quickly tell that it is a classic one with buttons for almost everything imaginable.
This leads to cognitive overload for users and frustration that sometimes makes them feel “technologically challenged.”
How To Benefit From Hick’s Law
Card sorting is a great way to learn about categories of information that are more meaningful to your users.
It will help you define groups of functions and terms.
You can use traditional paper cards or digital tools for card sorting.
Optimal Workshop or similar tools can be very efficient and fast to get effective results.
“The amount of time required for a person to reach a target is a function of the distance to the target divided by the size of the target.”
Due to the balance between speed and accuracy, more mistakes happen when you move quickly or aim at small targets.
This means the smaller your target area, the longer it will take the user to take this action based on the distance/size ratio.
This is especially important when designing buttons and other clickable screen elements.
An Example of Fitts Law
Some websites do not expand the clickable area of a button or link to the entire target.
Because of this, it takes more care to move the cursor to the right link, which makes it take longer to move around.
Fitts’ Law says that every available pixel should be used to make the clickable area bigger and easier to click on.
3 Ways To Benefit From Fitts’ Law
- Target areas should be large enough for users to both distinguish what they are and select them accurately.
- There should be enough space between the tap and click targets.
- Touch and click targets should be placed in easily accessible areas of the interface.
The Von Restorff Effect
Also known as “The Isolation Effect,” it predicts that when more than one similar object is present, the one that is different from the others is more likely to be remembered.
In the design, you can make important information or key actions more prominent than others.
Example of the Von Restorff Effect
As you can see in the picture below, when participants were presented with a distinctive, isolated item on the list and a list of categorically similar items, different ones were remembered.
One Way to Start Using the Von Restorff Effect
- Make important information or important actions visually distinctive.
- Don’t leave out people who have trouble seeing colors or have a low vision just because you use color to create contrast.
- Consider users with motion sensitivity when using motion to create contrast.
“The Zeigarnik Effect” states that people remember incomplete or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.
The Zeigarnik Effect is the tendency to keep thinking about an unfinished goal that you once tried to reach.
The automatic system in our brains tells the conscious mind, which can then focus on new goals, that a task from before wasn’t finished.
An Example of the Zeigarnik Effect: Trivial Questions from CNN
At the end of its half-hour news show, CNN Headline News asks a silly question and then moves on to the sports report.
This silly question makes the viewer feel like they don’t know enough, which is enough to keep them watching the whole sports report to find out the answer, even if they don’t care about sports at all.
A Way to Start Applying the Zeigarnik Effect
- Motivating users to complete tasks
- Providing artificial progress towards a goal can make people more motivated to finish the task.
“Users spend most of their time on other sites.”
This means users prefer your site to work the same as any other site they already know.”
Example of Jacob’s Rule: Mercedes-Benz’ Seat Control
In the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 prototype, designers matched the shape of the seat with the seat controls on the door panel next to each seat.
The final design makes it easy for people to know which part of their seat they can change by looking at the button.
It works well because it builds on what we already know about how a car seat works and then maps the controls to that idea.
3 Ways To Benefit From Jacob’s Law
- Always start with common patterns and conventions and depart from them only when it makes sense.
- If you can provide a convincing argument to do something different to improve the core user experience, that’s a good sign that it’s worth investigating.
- If you go the unconventional route, be sure to test your design with users to make sure they understand how it works.
These are some of the UX design laws you can apply to your next project.
Remember, your goal in any project will be to “not make the user think too much” but rather to let them roam freely on the website.
Keeping these design principles and UX rules in mind will help you create a better user experience for your users.