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6 Cognitive Psychology Theories to Improve UX Design

User experience (UX) is the most important aspect of any product. The user-friendly design increases engagement. Inconvenient website – significantly harms your brand. Users quickly leave the pages, the chance of returning is negligible. Your UI – the user interface – prevents them from getting to know the brand well. Search engines lower your rating, you are hardly noticed in the search results. A frightening picture! How to avoid it? Add some science and psychology to your UI and UX design. The difference between a bad product and a good product is in the understanding of the users. Find out what they want and what problems they have. Understand how people perceive and interact with your product.


UX design and psychology. Aesthetics and usability 


UX design and psychology are closely related. Can you imagine a good builder who doesn’t understand physics? Or a ship captain who doesn’t know anything about geography? So it is here: knowledge of psychology is at the heart of UI design.

The aesthetic side is, of course, important for any product. But without an understanding of the social, behavioural, and cognitive psychology that guides your users’ decisions, a pretty picture can end up hurting the user experience. Why? Because the expectations are too high. This is called the usability aesthetic effect. People automatically assume that an attractive product should be more intuitive, easier to use. If this does not work out, users begin to blame themselves. These thoughts lead to disappointment. And leaving the site. You don’t want that, right? 


Things to Consider in Web Design for UX and UI


Popular sites with high rankings are distinguished by the fact that they attract users, not repel them. This is logical. But how do you achieve this effect? As we already mentioned you must use psychology while designing your website. We prepared for you the list of six principles you need to consider in order to delight the user and recoup the investment.


1. Simplify the choice


There’s a reason why choosing from a menu with 100 different options takes so long. It’s called Hick’s Law. The more options you offer your users, the longer it will take them to decide. And the higher the chance that they will be disappointed. And they will leave. In digital design, Hick’s Law is almost fundamental.

Do not lay out all the options in front of the user at once. Break the process down into several steps. Make several simple tasks out of complex ones. Highlight the important stages. And offer a few options as possible.


Not the most popular actions can be grouped into menus or separate subcategories. And, of course, unnecessary options should be removed.

All this will reduce the time users spend making a decision. This means that you will help them reach their goal faster and with minimal obstacles. Minus one reason for disappointment!


2. Bring important actions closer to the user


The further your finger or cursor is from the element you want to click on, and the smaller the element, the longer it takes to complete the action. This is also the law. Fitts’s Law. And that’s the foundation of good UI design.

Imagine, for example, that a person is looking for delivery terms. And on your site, the link to them is in a long list of other (albeit no less useful) sections. Also, at the bottom of the page. To find the link you need, you need to scroll to the end and carefully read the entire list. Most users will give up and leave the website. They will decide it is not worth their time. To avoid this, make all interactive elements large enough so that they will be easy to find. For example, the minimum margin of error for buttons is 42 to 72 pixels wide. So design common and popular links in this way, and the user will get to where they need to, even if they miss a little.


The last component of Fitts’s Law is distance. In the era of large screens, it becomes more and more important. Smartphone screens are getting bigger, but people’s fingers don’t grow that fast. Don’t put important elements in the top left corner, for example. If a person uses only one hand to work with a smartphone, and the other is busy, reaching the desired button on the site will be problematic. If at all possible. The inconvenience will again lead to a high failure rate. You don’t need that.

Try using a heatmap to help you figure out where it will be easier for users to tap without stretching their fingers or using a second hand.


3. Correct positions


Read this list and try to memorize all the words in a few minutes:
















Okay, most likely, you were not trying to remember, but just continued reading the text. We will not judge you. We will tell you what the point is here. When people actually do this task, it turns out that the worst thing they remember is the words in the middle. But with those that are at the beginning or at the end, there are no problems. Why? This is an edge effect that you can use to enhance the UX design of your digital product. Take the navigation bar, for example. There is a reason the Home button is almost always on the left. And this is the same reason the right edge is usually occupied by profiles or mail. Place important elements along the edges – and users don’t have to remember the navigation for a long time. By considering the edge effect, you will make your product more intuitive and your users more advanced.


4. Remember selective attention


Keep in mind that users can ignore information they don’t need. The over-saturation of advertising and information on the web has given rise to banner blindness. A person is more likely to receive 237 lightning strikes than click on an ad banner. He just won’t notice it. And this selective focus isn’t just about advertising. If the element does not look like it solves the user’s problem, it will not be noticed. Expert web designers from Sydney advise you to avoid this when designing your interface. 


5. Make groups of important elements


Elements that are close to each other are perceived to be more interconnected than those that are farther apart. In this case, the different elements are usually viewed as a single group rather than separately.


How to use the proximity principle in UI and UX design?


You can use the principle of proximity to group information of the same type, organize content, and organize structures. If you use this principle correctly, you will get positive results in visual communication and UX.


According to this principle, interconnected elements should be close to each other, while disconnected ones should be located at a distance. Free space plays an essential role here, as it creates contrast while directing the user’s attention to the right place. White space can help increase visual hierarchy and information flow, helping create layouts that are easy to read and view – which in turn can help users reach their goals faster and immerse themselves deeper into the content.


6. Don’t make yourself an evil genius


For many years, some companies have used dark schemes. They structured the user interface in such a way that visitors would fall into the trap and do what the company wanted to do. This is often used to trick people into buying unnecessary insurance or unwittingly agreeing to paid subscriptions. Dark schemes often play on stereotypes and expectations that most users have: bright buttons – positive confirmation, right arrow – forward movement, left – backward. Right? Not. Dark schemes capitalize on these expectations and play on people’s fears. They put company goals ahead of user goals. And they play with design for dishonest gain.


Any business can have the desired results. You can achieve them with your product. But you can do this without compromising people’s trust in your brand. Start by identifying what the real value of your product is to users. Then find where their goals intersect with your business strategy. With this approach, you will definitely be able to develop a design that will be useful to all parties.




The principles we’ve outlined affect how users interact with your product from looking to decision-making. And it is advisable not to implement these principles retroactively. Work on them, starting from the early stages: when you have not yet sat down to create a site, but only think about what it will be like. Consider user psychology during development. And then their UX will be immediately positive. As a last resort, do a redesign with a psychological foundation. A couple of pages that delight the user will significantly reduce the bounce rate and increase engagement across all metrics.

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