Explore our Digital Experience Management Toolkit

What Psychology Studies Can Teach Us About UX and Web Design Principles

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 23 Oct, 2017
Advanced Advanced topic

Apply behavioral psychology to your web design to boost your conversion rate

Getting people to choose something over another has more to do with psychology than anything else. When the principles of psychology have been understood, they may be integrated in UX and website design. If they are integrated well, they end up becoming a determinant of whether the website is a success on the market.

The principles of psychology employed in general marketing are the same ones employed in UX and web design. The following are some of the psychological principles that work in marketing. Use of research in social psychology is important. It explains the reasons why consumers sometimes do the opposite of what is expected of them.

Users Prefer Substance Over Beauty

It’s important to understand that UX is not all about packaging. While good packaging may attract customers, it takes quality content to maintain them. That's why a website that has a good design may have people visiting for a short while. Once the visitors realize that the quality is bad, they will stop visiting.

A website offering high quality ends up having many more visitors in the long run. With this psychological principle in mind, designers must not spend all their time making a website attractive at the expense of loading quality products.

Researching more on what visitors want for content leads to success. Quality is considered to be a twin property with credibility. The website should ensure that customers don’t have to deal with licensing issues after downloading. Once visitors find quality and peace, they become loyal and settle.

Most People Prefer Scanning to Reading

Psychology studies have proven the fact that the vast majority of people do not read all the details, they scan. The eyes tend to rest at the center of the write-up. Information that is at the fringes of the web page tends to be ignored unless serious reading is being done. Therefore, for a website to communicate properly, most of the relevant information should be put at the center.

This type of content is referred to as anchor information. If the website requires visitors to bear a large cognitive load, they are unlikely to linger and figure out what it is about. There are many websites offering similar services on the internet. This means that visitors don’t have to endure websites that cause them exhaustion. This is in line with findings of psychology studies that people endure only when they must.

When people visit the website, their processing of information is mainly subconscious. The best way to exploit this aspect of human psychology is by using pictures. Websites should have informative pictures positioned strategically to nudge visitors in a certain direction. Psychological studies show that babies and women faces are more attractive to visitors. It is also an accepted fact that people study webpages in F-Shape. Colors and fonts can also be employed to help visitors process.

A Good Website or UX Should Not Require Patience of the Visitor

Filling long forms online is a chore for most people. For applications that require people to register, the registration process should be simple and quick. Most of the people who have ever attempted to register for something online can attest to having discarded a cumbersome process halfway.

All unnecessary fields in tables should be eliminated. This ensures that only the very necessary fields get filled. The verification process should also be simple. It should not take more than a click on a link. This observation confirms an observation in social psychology that people are only patient when they absolutely have to be.

Designers Should Promote Social Proof for the Website

Decisions of other people influence individuals’ decision making. People prefer that which others have tested and approved. With this in mind, a website should have a way of showing what others think about it. One way of having this is through user reviews. Positive reviews create the impression in new customers that they are likely to like the product. Negative reviews also play an important role in ensuring that the reviews appear authentic.

Social filters on behavior are also an important part of social proof. A website or UX may improve the number of purchases by informing visitors what other customers like them bought. Whenever a person sees such a prompt, they feel they also need to do what people of like minds as them did. Still on social proof; some websites allow visitors to mention what they like about a particular product. When they indicate, people see whether there are others who think like them. This creates the feeling that they have been seconded. It strengthens their resolve to purchase the item.

Netflix Success Story

Netflix is one company that has employed the psychology of digital marketing with considerable success. The company employs a large helping of psychology to present viewers with what they want. A clean and easily navigable UX allows for quick scanning, and user rating show which shows others rate highly (social proof). Another psychological characteristic they have adopted is the use of emotions. When a show has well developed characters, viewers tend to identify with them and feel for them. Four out five of Netflix shows are emotional, attachment to characters makes for repeat views in the sequels. Concerning the design of deployment of programs. Netflix has taken advantage of viewers’ desire for streaming to make programs available for binge watchers.


There are other issues that play to the psychology of visitors. For instance, a developer should make sure that the name of a website captures the visitors’ highest ideal of what they expect. These same principles of psychology employed in general marketing are the same ones employed in UX and web design. Use of research in social psychology is important. It explains the reasons why consumers sometimes do the opposite of what is expected of them.

Author's avatar

By Expert commentator

This is a post we've invited from a digital marketing specialist who has agreed to share their expertise, opinions and case studies. Their details are given at the end of the article.

This blog post has been tagged with:

Behavioural economicsConsumer psychology

Recommended Blog Posts