Most of the users generally do not interact with your product in a manner you intend them to do so. Almost, every industry is struggling to gain user’s attention and perform particular action like signing up for the product or buying the product, especially when you need them to take repeated actions.
Most of the UX practitioners are working towards creating a user-friendly interface that motivates them to complete the tasks and yet even the most user-friendly interface is not able to engage users efficiently sometimes.
Consequently, to understand this user behavior, we need to take a look at the human psychology that triggers the initiation and performance of a behavior. So, this shall help you in creating a more usable interface and conducting user-specific researches.
What is UX?
UX refers to the term user experience that a user has while interacting with your products. Hence, the UX design is the process of designing a product (whether digital or physical) that is useful, easy to use, and provides a pleasant interaction experience. It focuses on enhancing the user experience that people have while using your product and making sure to create more value for the users in what you are offering to them. The main goal of the UX design in business is the improvement of customer satisfaction by enhanced utility and ease of usability of the product.
In the case of websites, UX focuses on the overall experience of the website rather than just on the looks of the site. It involves designing and planning an experience as well as creating a workflow for the users of the website.
Why is UX design important?
UX is all about providing the better experience to the users of website, apps, desktop software, or any other form of human interaction with your product. The UX helps in figuring out what is needed, where things should go, and what it should say. This helps if defining the site structure, content, and audiences. It also helps in knowing your customers better and segmenting them in order to provide a best experience that allows them to meet their goals, engage with the website and eventually convert into sale or lead.
UX and human psychology:
If you want to create an effective design, it is essential for you to have a knowledge of human psychology. It helps you in knowing what the users want and what are the drivers and motivation behind the user’s behavior. You can design accordingly if you know how people will react to the visual stimuli. But, psychology is a wider concept but a little application of it in your design can help you create an effective one.
Principles of human psychology and UX:
Here are the few principles that can be used to improve the quality, usability, and comprehension of the designs:
- Mental models: Most of the UX designers think about the mental models while designing a new website or app trying to figure out what might interest the users. It is the process of determining how a person perceives things in the real world through experience and trying to replicate this model in the virtual world.
When it comes to designing, you need to make numerous choices about the color, shape, line, font, text, and graphic so that you can effectively deliver the message you want to send across. So, for designers the mental modeling becomes important
- Visceral reaction: When exposed to data, content, or any visuals our human mind gives two kinds of responses: one is the emotional response that comes instantly and other is planned reaction that takes some time to come out.
You might think that all your actions are completely pre-planned and well thought-out. But, much of your thoughts are still rooted and influenced by our “old brain”. It is that part of the brain that kept our ancestors alive. It reacts faster that our conscious thoughts and react to the exposure of food, danger, shelter. These emotional reactions originated from the central nervous system are called visceral reactions.
We often experience a situation where we love a design but fail to explain why. Such reactions are visceral. To overcome this situation, using the design elements that can represent any of the old brain triggers shall be great. It could be something about survival, threat, and reproduction. For e.g. using the aqua blue color to represent fresh water, etc.
- Cost-benefit analysis: Two patterns can classify the human behavior i.e. opportunity seeking behavior and threat avoidance. But, over the centuries we all have developed a behavior to save energy wherever possible. Even, our ancestors lived by the same principle to limit energy usage to those activities that provide highest benefits.
And, even after years, we are exhibiting the same behavior. Subconsciously, we all always evaluate the potential energy spent on a given task and the possible reward of doing so. So, if on the website any tasks appear to be the high-energy cost, the users are likely to skip that task if the rewards are not high value.
The best example of this is the long forms. They require considerably a lot of time to complete all the details in such forms. So, if the reward at the end of filling the form is not high, then most of the users shall skip it and move on to next website that will require lesser efforts for seeking information.
It is just not about physical activity only rather it focuses on mental activity as well. Frequent decisions, memorizing, learning, contemplation and other mental activities can be tiring. So, until the benefit of completing the task does not outweigh the cost of proceeding, the users are most likely to skip the task.
- Hick’s Law: Hick’s law is directly related to the cost-benefit principle. If more options are given to the users to choose from- be it navigation, products, or images- more energy shall be required to make a decision. Consequently, the energy required to take the decision becomes so large that it does not make sense for the user to make a decision.
Even though many of the users illustrate their interest in having more products or options to take their decision, but their behavior illustrates the contrary. It actually increases the difficulty to take a decision with so many options around and in some cases, users will opt not to take any decision due to difficulty in settling down on one option.
Hence, it is better to keep the options to a minimum. It applies to everything including content on your website, navigational elements, images, etc. try removing all the unessential elements from your website that gives a user an experience to read, focus, and click.
- Gestalt psychology: Gestalt laws describes the principles and suggestions of how the different elements can be perceived when combined in a certain manner or way. It helps in creating structures or togetherness on the website. It helps in drawing attention to the important elements of the website so that the impression of balance and stability can be created using them.
You can Gestalt laws quite simple, but they can have a huge impact on the user behavior. It deals with the visual perception that describes the visual elements should be organized in a group or related gigues. There are a certain set of principles that developed that define the congenital way of visual perception. These principles are Law of proximity, Law of good continuation, Law of closure, Law of simplicity, Law of similarity, Law of figure and ground, Law of symmetry, and Law of experience.
- Pattern matching: Patterns are very old concepts and we see a pattern in everything in everyday life. From a tree to an electron, everything is made up of some kind of pattern. We process things from their patterns to the written word. Whenever we see any visual stimuli, a chain reaction starts in our brain and start hunting for the something similar to the current visual that we experienced in the past. So, if we are able to match it with any pre-existing pattern then we are able to recognize what we are seeing. It goes beyond forms and colors and also activates any intellectual association with the pattern being matched.
The pattern matching works on the fact how familiar do you feel about a pattern. The more frequently you see something, the more patterns are stored in your mind which makes it easy to identify them. You feel familiar with them if they are matched easily. So, pattern matching helps in creating many UI’s using the similar layouts, images, and navigation so that they are easily identifiable. Also, patterns become a more of a default choice when we have so many buyer personas to design for to kick in the simplicity.
- Facial recognition:It is yet another form of pattern matching. We all are born with a subconscious ability to read faces. A person’s face gently replicates the power and complexities of his brain. We can read someone’s mind, thoughts, mood, and emotions through his facial expressions. So, while designing a website we need to understand the power of human face rather than just focusing on the written words and attractive designs.
Like, images and text communicate the message, using human faces is another way of communication. Children’s picture book is the best example of it which communicates the message through the power of images rather than text alone.
Hence, choosing some appropriate pictures for the website will allow the users to interpret much of the story without even reading the text. But, posting random images will fail to communicate the specific images and can be confusing to the users. Hence, placing a well thought image with the related text can be very influential for the users.
Placing an image of a face than a landscape will put a greater effect on the reader’s mind than a picture of a beautiful landscape. It will help to influence how the user feels about the website. For example a happy and smiling page will convey a sense of welcome whereas the picture of sad and starving people will depict sadness and sorrow.
- Social influence: Social influence helps in describing how the persuasion of others influences the values, beliefs, and behavior of an individual. In other words, how the real and perceived expectation of others influences your decisions. The social influence is far beyond facial recognition and has a greater impact on the user’s decisions.
By looking what others are doing, we are able to make up our mind more easily. This does not mean the users will rely on others blindly but it helps in making more effective and informed decisions. A various psychological phenomenon like feedbacks, testimonials, references, list of best selling products, popularity indicators, etc. can be used to persuade the users.
Application of these principles helps in UX design:
- User-friendly: Most of the users spend as less as 15 second on your website which is not whole lot of time to even go through the vast amount of content posted on your website. Since, our brains are hardwired to measure benefits in comparison to energy spent so, most of the users will decide in these 15 second whether to continue reading through the content or not. That’s where “progressive disclosure” comes into picture wherein you can increase the user engagement by posting content in a way in which the brains like to process it. In simpler words, people are lazy. So, just showing them the basic to decide their next action step is the best strategy.
- Unconscious decisions influence the physical actions: The way you present content on your website definitely affects the subconscious mind in decision making. Our emotional brain get affected by the colors, images, and words which influences the power of decision making. So, being mindful about the structure, design, tone, and words being used in content will help. For example: if you want the user to take some action, make sure it is clearly mentioned with the call to action button.
- You cannot rely on the human memory: Humans cannot remember each of information they are exposed to. This is where the Gestalt principles can be used to increase the amount of information the users read. So, in order to achieve this, you can group the relevant information into segments in an organized, symmetrical, and simpler manner. Also, the simpler font and design choices do wonders in grabbing user’s attention
- Culture impacts the behavior: We all are bought up in a different environment and culture. It impacts how we perceive things around us and how we expect them to look, feel, and act. This information eventually get hardwired to your mental models. So, while designing a website you need to make that you do not go beyond the user’s culture otherwise, it will not make any sense to them.
- Getting social: Human are the social animals. They like to interact with other people and imitating the actions done by others. This is where we can apply the principle of social influence which is one of the key concepts behind user experience. It impacts the amount of value placed by a user on an object and how likely he is going to interact with it. So, you can show the social proof on your website by way of case studies, testimonials, reviews, statements, etc. that shall help in influencing the decision of other users.
The UX is essential for every business. If a business will give a little stress on the user experience than it is most likely to lose greater market share, customers, and revenue, returns on investment, the total cost of ownership as well as a delay in user acceptance.
Nowadays, users have become more sophisticated than ever before whether they are using any software, application, or a website to place an order. They need a perfect user experience for completing their task. Hence, the companies should employ a UX expertise and skills so that they can offer an appropriate interface to the users that shall help them in achieving their objectives, target, and retaining a customer, increase ROI and TCO results.
Also, as discussed, various things influence the user’s mind. So, if you want to the user to take the desired call to action step and complete the task, then you need to find and remove the barriers between them and your goals. You need to understand various factors that motivate them so that they can be provided with the ability and trigger that creates new behaviors.
So, to summarize, UX design is all about using the human’s psychology to understand the user’s behavior and find out what influences their decisions. This helps in motivating and triggering the desired behavior required or accomplishing the common goals.