How self-absorbed are you?
You don't need to answer that, for we all know that each web designer secretly shelters its own overdose of pride (towards his own creativity, his thirst for innovation and so on)... Still, if you're determined to make it in this user-centered digital world, you'd better lose some of that "I burst creativity and I “exhale” innovation and the user can't possibly not admire my... works of art!"
User psychology principles, combined with your own creativity, result in... powerful web design that actually influences (and which is much more than aesthetically pleasing). Curious now to discover how your site users' brains actually work?
The Human Brain Craves Order
Chaos on your website might look like some sort of a... statement to you, but beware of the temptation of getting too... innovative. You'll then risk to come up with a web design lacking:
familiar web design patterns (e.g hamburger menu, account registration, continuous stroll, FAQ, breadcrumbs etc.)
In a few words, make it easy for your user to surf through your interface with the help of a logical hierarchy.
Also, be sure to remain consistent with the theme and with the design patterns that you've settled for throughout your website.
One more thing: reward your visitor through recognition. Make him feel safe and sort of... proud of himself by placing:
your contact information where he's used to find it, based on his previous experiences
the call to action button, as well, where he'd normally find it
the logo on top, as he's used to seeing it an so on...
Speaking of the “recognition pattern”, what better examples could you think of other than:
Google, that guides our searches based on our browsing history and past searches
Amazon, that guides us in our future selections based on our previous purchases
Cement this pattern of recognition in your user-friendly interface!
Still, The Human Brain Can “Digest” a Certain Dose of Surprise
… but only if you're really carefully how you dosage it and how you present it to him.
What does this mean? It means that yes, of course that you're allowed to think outside the box, to get innovative, but you get to break the familiar patterns if and only if:
You've already asked yourself why you're breaking up the standard pattern
You're confident that your new one is better (and not just different)
You're sure that it's intuitive enough for your user (that it triggers surprise and not just frustration)
The safest way to... incorporate innovation into your web design is by placing the new pattern where the user doesn't expect it to be and by rewarding him, as well (most important), once he will have discovered it.
You'll thus influence him to embrace the new method of interaction!
The Human Brain Craves... Trustworthiness
User psychology-centered web design revolves around this common principle after all: first you do all the work it takes for winning your customer's trust and only then you can actually expect him to... reward you (by placing an order, by subscribing to your newsletter you name it)
So, is your website trustworthy? You know how to build appealing websites, but do you know how to upgrade them so that they convey trust as well?
Familiar design elements (e.g. menu at the top)
Visible page headings and titles
Detailed contact information at the bottom of the website
Consistency in design (e.g using the colors in your logo throughout the entire website, even if just for links or for small icons)
Placing your logo throughout your website (thus reinforcing branding and... building a sense of recall in your user's brain)
“Less is more”, when it comes to content and... only easy-to-digest, perfectly structured content is king (“concise” is the golden word in the... user-centered online world)
The Human Brain Reacts to Colors
And there's a whole study pointing out each color's array of specific emotions/reactions (that they trigger in the user's brain).
Here are just some of the main color's characteristics, according to user psychology principles applied to web design:
Red: it conveys a state of emergency (e.g. Chinese restaurants using red to urge their future customers to... satisfy heir hunger) and alert (see it CNN's news alerts or where it's used to point out sales mark downs)
Green: you won't find a more... easily to be processed color than green, nor one conveying the same state of optimism. In a few words: when it doubt... go for green! Being easily associated with nature, it's heavily used for beauty products websites.
Blue: it makes the best choice when the main emotion you want to convey to your target audience is... trust. Rely on calm, cool shades of blue when you want to build a website on a solid foundation of trustworthiness, when you want to gain loyalty from your users (giants like Facebook and Twitter have and also lots of banks are using it on their websites). So, blue is trust and openness!
Purple: go with the “royal” color if it's a message of... high-brow type of brand/services/products that you want to convey to your users. Many beauty and retail websites are “painted in purple” for this color's calming and soothing effect on the users.
White: what's more inviting than white? It helps you put together a clean, pure design, one showcasing certain elements of your work and where do you add that there's much fuss about the almighty “white space”. What does it mean? It means that you should design with these necessary white spaces in mind (spaces on the website with no text or imagery), some “breaths of fresh air” for your user's eyes.
Black: it's strong and powerful, but on the other hand... emotionless. Used mostly for luxury products retailers, it can help you trigger the right emotions that you want to if... used wisely (balance is key, after all, no matter what colors you choose)
Grey: so modern and professional, yet lacking personality, some might say.
Pink: when you say “pink” you automatically say “feminine”, “fun” and “youthful”. So, you pretty much got the picture which should be your target market when you use lively or soft shades of pink!
How Does User Psychology Dictate Layout, Typography and Content?
We've already strengthened the importance of the “white space” concept, but we're going to... put it into the spotlight once again: use “comfort zones” in your layout (white zones), where your visitor can... rest his/her eyes and his brain if you want to guarantee him a pleasant experience on your website.
When it comes to fonts (and we do thank CSS3 for giving us access to a brand new world of... friendly fonts), they still divide into 2 major categories, each one of them addressing 2 types of users, 2 types of fields of activity:
Serif fonts: the ones conveying professionalism, traditionalism and importance (used on educational websites, newspaper websites...)
San serif fonts: preferred by... modern brands, on the cutting edge side (e.g. Google and Apple)
Also, balanced spacing is key (put enough space between your letters/paragraphs so that your text doesn't look too dense and so that it shouldn't convey a certain flightiness, either)
Basically, it all revolves around structuring your content in order to be easy to be digested...
Now how about turning this empowering user psychology knowledge into the driving force behind your own future persuasive web designs?