A Beginner’s Guide to Psychology Principles in UX Design

Psychology principles in design are critical to being a great UX designer ie: your ability to put yourself in the shoes of your users.

Psychology Principles in UX Design

How would your users interact with your designs? Will they find it user-friendly, or would it be a total turn-off for them?

As a UX designer, your ability to predict the behavior of your users is critical to how they can interact with your website and the buying decisions they make.

This prediction of user behavior can only be achieved when you understand the principles of psychology in UX design.

Whether you agree or not, a successful website design that generates good user experience is influenced by knowledge of certain principles of psychology. As a UX designer, your ability to understand users and the reasons why they do certain things is an invaluable resource, you need to have.

When you have extensive knowledge of the human sense of reasoning, then your users will derive maximum user experience with your website.

You may be wondering if you need to study psychology for you to understand and predict human behavior. Well, you do not need to study psychology for you to understand the principles of human behavior as it relates to UX design.

Here, in this post, we are going to let you in on some psychology principles you need to know so that you can improve on the experience your users have with your website or designs.

Without further explanation — let’s begin! 


  • Hick’s Law:



The psychological idea presented in Hick’s law is very simple and straightforward. It postulates that the more choices or options you give an individual, the longer it will take for them to decide on what to do. 

Suffice to say that when a designer presents a lot of complex choices for users to make, it will take the user a long time to make a decision. To guard against this, you have to create your website in such a way that it does not overwhelm your users with too many complex options.


  • Fear Of The Unknown



As you’d expect, people find it easier to interact with something or a design that they are familiar with. They would naturally pick things they find familiar over the ones that they have not seen or used before. 

Okay, let’s take a look at this example, picture yourself in a supermarket carrying out your routine shopping, you are more likely to pick products or brands that you are familiar with or products that you have used before over the ones that you have not used.

This is a principle of human psychology were our mind tries to protect us by making us choose things that we’ve experienced over ones that we haven’t experienced. Those things that we haven’t used or experienced before are the unknown, and we might hesitate to try them out.

This principle of human psychology as it relates to fear of the unknown can be applied to UX design. 

As a UX designer, you cannot just come up with a design that is totally and completely different from the functionalities that people are used to. It’s a total NO-NO.

When there are too many new design elements in your website design, it can be unsettling to the user, and it may create fear of the unknown. And as a result, it may affect user experience.

On the other hand, a mixture of both new and familiar elements in your design can be sensational, and create excitement on the part of the user.

As a good UX designer, you should endeavor to strike a balance between the familiar elements and the new elements in your design.


  • KISS (Keep It Short And Sweet)



Keep it short and sweet is an adage that is still relevant in UX design today. Make sure that your texts are short and concise, especially if you are designing a website. Make sure that the information you’re trying to pass across can be easily understood within the shortest time possible — the lesser the time, the better. 

Here are some guidelines to help you keep your text short and sweet;

  • Get the attention and interest of your users by making use of active voice instead of passive voice in your texts.
  • Limit each sentence to, at least, 20 words.
  • Make your tag lines, slogans, and subtitles short and punchy.
  • Do not use long paragraphs.


When your texts are succinct and concise, your users will be able to know the next line of action easily, and this helps their user experience. In fact, keeping your text short and simple can be the one distinction between a good website and a perfect website. In some situations where you need to write certain short texts in other languages, you’ll find online localization and translation services from The Word Point and other brands helpful.


  • Gestalt Law



This is also known as the law of visual perception. This theory stipulates that the human brain naturally tries to subconsciously arrange visual objects that are scattered or separated into a group so that our brain can process them easily.


This principle consists of six laws. They are;



1. Law of Symmetry: 


This means that the human brain perceives symmetrical objects (made of exactly similar parts) as belonging together, not minding the distance between them. The law of symmetry can be applied to product displays, portfolios, banners, listings, etc. when designing your website.


2. Law of Proximity: 


This law states that objects that are placed together are perceived by our brain as belonging to one unit or more related than objects that are far from each other. The law of proximity can be applied to your website’s texts, banners, lists, navigation, galleries, etc.


3. Law of Similarity: 


Objects that look similar are perceived by the human brain as related as against objects that do not share similar characteristics. The principle of similarity can be applied to buttons, call to actions, navigation, and headings when designing your website.


4. Common Region: 


This law states that people naturally tend to see elements or objects placed in the same location as related or grouped. The law of common region can be applied to banners and tables when designing your website.



5. Law of Closure: 


This law states that the human brain always tries to fill an incomplete object with its perceived missing pieces so as to process it as a whole. This law can be applied to the use of icons where users can understand and give meaning to certain icons.


6. Law of Continuity: 


The human brain tends to see elements that follow the same pattern or a continuous line as more related or as belonging to the same group. The law of continuity can be applied in product arrangements, menus, sub-menus, listings, services, in your website design.


  • Preference For Pictures



Humans are visual beings; our brain tends to process information faster when they are in picture or image format. Little wonder the old saying goes, ” a picture is worth a thousand words.” Psychologists also agree that one reason why social media is more popular among people today is due to the fact that its content consists more of images and videos.

So, as a UX designer, when you incorporate more images into your design, you’ll most likely get your users to interact more with your design, and your message would be easily understood.

Here are some guides you should follow to make your images stand-out;

  • Your background should be plain and simple so that your image and text will be visible.
  • Use one outstanding image, instead of using many images that are not so appealing.
  • Let the overall appearance of your design be simple and not overwhelming.



  • Von Restorff Effect



This is also known as the isolation effect, and it is based on the fact that the human brain tends to notice the elements that stand out. I’m sure you would have been faced with a similar situation where there are so many identical objects, and the one that is different among them is the one that gets your attention or gets noticed. 

The Von Restorff effect is an important tool for UX designers as it helps to emphasize specific vital information or a specific line of action that a UX designer desires from users.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how important it is for you as a UX designer to be able to predict the subconscious mind of your users and how they are likely to interact with your website or design. You need to be able to tap into this invaluable psychological resource and apply these principles to any of your designs.

When you create the time to learn about the psychological behavior of your users, you are able to come up with designs that your users can interact with and derive maximum user experience.

Good-looking pixels and glowing graphics are great, but a good UX design is far more than that. Your ability to create a gratifying experience for your users in terms of convenience and good performance is most paramount.