Designers obsess over the style and art of their work, and rightfully so. However, they make this grave mistake of not going deeper. A good designer knows what makes a certain element of web design appealing. He or she knows how to catch a person’s attention. But it is rare that you will find a designer who actually understands why people like the things they do. This is where the actual psychology behind a modern day web design comes in.
Instead of being something clinical, something cold and dead, the actual science of psychology makes the design closer to the users. It makes room for connecting with your target audience, it gives you insight into what works on a much deeper level, and it helps you understand why that actually is. This can serve as an excellent tool in your arsenal, something that can truly push you forward.
Psychology Behind A Modern Day Web Design
Consistency on various levels
We crave consistency and stability. It’s an ancient reflex, it is part of the programming that allowed us to survive in the wild. What is strange and different should be approached with caution. What is familiar, should be guarded and used to keep us safe. This somewhat broad notion can be applied to web design easily.
Namely, if you have many different aspects of your company, like different websites, Instagram marketing, a Facebook page, a twitter account… All these aspects should have a familiar pattern. It’s not enough to just have your name and logo everywhere, you want to go farther. For example, let’s say your logo has aspects of sharp angles, and the colors red, black, and white. You want these aspects to be present in the way you design your website. Furthermore, the cover photo on your Facebook page, your Twitter profile image… you want all of these to follow the same angular pattern and the same color scheme. Now, there is no need to keep them identical, that can even be boring. This is, of course, a tricky subject. Unless you yourself are a web designer, a lack of any consistency might be a sign you need a web designer.
There is a psychological trait we all share, which is the manner in which we read online articles. Since we are constantly bombarded with information, research has shown that we developed a specific way in which we skim articles online. This is called the “F” pattern. Let’s say you have an article that has 20 lines of text. A reader will first skim through the article by reading the first and (for example) tenth line. Besides these two lines, they will read the first couple of word for all other lines. Essentially, our eyes move in the shape of an “F”.
So, how is this relevant to you? Simple. If the reader actually likes what he or she skimmed through, they will read the entire article. So, you need to hook the reader by putting the most interesting and useful information you can into the first and some middle line, as well as the first couple of words of all the other lines of text. This is a trend that boosts conversion rates and has been for some time now. Of course, this is easier said than done, and if done improperly will ruin the actual text. It’s up to you to navigate this fine line properly.
Proper usage of images
It’s a no brainer that images make things nicer. They are used as an almost decorative item, something to draw the eye. However, they have another function. Namely, they can reinforce a certain concept or idea. If you put an image that makes no sense and has no connection with the concept you offer, you will just confuse the reader. However, if you have a properly corresponding image, you will reinforce whatever you wanted to reinforce. It creates a sense of order in the user, a sense of peace.
Here is an example, just to make things more clear. Let’s say you are hired to design a website used by a catering service, and they want a nice background image. Now, do you put a photo of a delicious steak with all the sides, artfully photographed? Or do you go with a girl in a dress, wearing fancy jewelry? Of course, you choose the steak. The question is, why do we reflexively know the answer to this question? Because when we enter such a website, we are primed to think about either a party or food. The girl in the dress will at best just confuse people, or, at worst, will seem like a cheap move to grab a user’s attention.
Avoid overwhelming people with information
Our minds can only handle so much information. After a certain point, we will feel frustrated and annoyed by a chaotic user interface. And this isn’t just a matter of poor and sloppy design. Often people want to implement features that are truly fantastic. Unfortunately, there is simply too much stuff on one page, and it ends up confusing the user. Sure, exposure is awesome, but if you can’t keep anybody on your page for longer than twenty seconds, what’s the point?
You want to give people some breathing room, some space to be able to take everything in properly. Now, of course, all this happens subconsciously, in a matter of seconds. Don’t be afraid to have some empty space on your page. In fact – use it. Implement it, modify it so you can direct the user’s attention to something else.
Every single page should have a clear focus, a clear idea that it represents in important in a modern day web design. Humans are not actually as good at multitasking as we like to think we are. Having one page serve one idea, have it do one task, will make things flow much more naturally for all your users.
The page should be designed in a manner in which the actual focus and purpose of the page are readily apparent. Perhaps the purpose of a page is to showcase a product, or perhaps it’s there to provide a brief history of the company. Maybe you want a page that is designed to get you guaranteed local SEO functionality. Putting too much information on one page is lazy and inefficient. And don’t be afraid of leaving some room and blank space on the page. If used properly, it can only emphasize the information you are providing.
The psychology of colors
One of the more interesting aspects of the psychology of design is the theory backing emotions behind colors. Namely, every color has a certain effect on people, it provokes emotion. Take into consideration though that shades matter, as does the intensity of the colors. There is also some overlap between them, but they are in general quite clear.
So, for example, red is fire and passion, and it is also associated with power and anger. Yellow is soothing and calming. On the other hand, dark, gold-ish yellow is regal, just like purple. Green will remind your users of nature and growth. However, dark red is poison, but also earth. Black is elegance and class, but also death and strength. White is purity, but also reminds one of a hospital. In general, lighter shades provide an emotion of exhilaration and energy, while darker shades are melancholic and grounded.
Understanding how people think, what drives their emotions and motivations when using a certain service, or product, is key to becoming a better designer. You will get a much deeper understanding of things if you utilize these techniques and ideas in the modern day web design. Use the limitations of our minds to your advantage, understand how colors and emotions coexist, and find the right balance between familiarity and chaos.