Cognitive Psychology in UX Design — 5 Tips to Elevate your Design

Whether you’re a web designer working on their first project or an established professional looking for ways to elevate their design…

Cognitive Psychology in UX Design — 5 Tips to Elevate your Design

Whether you’re a web designer working on their first project or an established professional looking for ways to elevate their design portfolio, UX design principles can be a worthwhile topic to explore. According to TopTal, 94% of first impressions are indeed design related, with 75% of users judging a website based on overall aesthetics alone.

User Experience (UX) design revolves around enabling the end-user to enjoy a brand’s website, product and services in a seamless and immersive manner. Everything from your choice of the color palette to the way you position hyperlinks and calls to action goes into UX design and the final impression you spark with the user. In addition, Small Biz Genius illustrates that 88% of online customers say that they wouldn’t return to a website after a poor UX, while 70% of businesses outright fail due to bad usability and uninviting UX.

Given that people are creatures of habit, subjective perception and individual wants and needs, the use of cognitive psychology in UX design is more than welcome. That said, let’s take a look at several practical tips based on cognitive psychology which will help elevate your design and allow for more enjoyable and worthwhile UX going forward.

Benefits of Implementing Cognitive Psychology in UX Design

What is cognitive psychology and how can it be applied in UX design? Cognitive psychology is defined as a scientific study of mental processes which include learning, problem-solving, memory, perception and thinking among others.

It is a relatively young field of science which has found a plethora of applications in creative design and sparked the inception of a number of UX design theories. In short, it allows both novice designers and industry professionals to pinpoint the exact ways in which to streamline a user’s experience with a website or printed design media and allow for much quicker and meaningful engagement to take place.

Matt Jameson, Head of Web Development at Studyker spoke on the matter recently: “User-friendly websites which offer crystal-clear navigation, value proposition and conversion incentives will always outperform those with only the baseline functionality, regardless of the final product’s or service’s quality post-purchase.” Thus, we can point to several tangible benefits of implementing cognitive psychology into your UX design projects, including but not limited to the following:

  • Clear website design and content production standardization
  • Positive brand perception and competitive industry positioning
  • Higher traffic, lowered bounce rates and better social sharing rates
  • High ROI on the initial time and resource investment in the UX design

UX Tips to Elevate your Design through Cognitive Psychology

1. Standardize your Style Guide

As we’ve previously mentioned, most users judge a product based on its visual appeal prior to taking its utility into consideration. The cognitive psychology behind this response lies in our expectation of visual harmony and logic behind the combination of colors we are presented with.

With that in mind, it’s best to define your website’s or product’s color palette and style guide through and through before launch. Coca-Cola represents a good example of how well-designed style guide can make a difference in terms of user appeal and UX design as a whole. Make sure that each category, page, piece of content and visual on your website belongs to a coherent whole, rather than disjointed elements which don’t belong together.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of White Space

White space can be described as the empty space between pieces of content on your website or printed design. Anything that doesn’t involve direct user interaction can be attributed to white space, which is why so many website owners want to fill their online platforms with as much content and information as possible.

This is the wrong approach to take however since an overwhelming number of visual stimuli can cause the opposite cognitive psychology effect and drive a user away from your website. As a reference, you can check out Apple and their UI design principles sheet which showcases the effective use of white space in website and app design to achieve a better balance of concrete content and breathing room between interactive elements.

3. Personalization over Generalization

In the age of an overwhelming number of online services and websites to explore, offering a sense of belonging and personalization to the user is of utmost importance. Personalized navigation, content and calls to action which welcome the user as an individual rather than just a number to add to your website traffic is the name of the game.

A great example of personalized UX design can be found in the Duolingo language-learning platform which offers both web-based and app-based usability to its userbase. By creating a personalized environment for your visitors to enjoy, you will efficiently boost the cognitive psychology effects of your website, app or product on the end-user moving forward.

4. Enable Content Skimming

While it’s positive to create and publish as much content as possible to your website, it’s also important to note that not all of it will be read top to bottom. Content skimming is an unfortunate side-effect of global internet access and modern smartphone devices which emphasize short-form content and short content lifespans.

To amend for this emerging trend, you should enable your visitors to skim through content by introducing subheadings and abstracts of your pages directly on the landing page. Taking a note from Medium in terms of creating snippets and teasers of the content contained within individual pages will allow you to retain users for longer than before, appealing to their cognitive psychology and inviting them to take a closer look at those pages which interest them the most.

5. CTA-Oriented Navigation

Lastly, the best way to direct your users to the design elements you wish them to interact with is to introduce calls to action (CTA) into your design solution. Calls to action, while primarily a marketing tool, are capable of helping both recurrent and first-time users of your website to quickly find what they are looking for and engage with its content in a meaningful way.

The streaming giant Netflix achieved its success not only with globally-available content but also with clever use of CTAs, seamless onboarding and personalized navigation throughout the platform. Make clever use of calls to action in your web design or printed media project and the cognitive psychology effect on your users will be that much more efficient in terms of elevating their UX.

Continuous UX Design (Conclusion)

The fact of the matter is that UX design never really ends. New trends constantly emerge and aim to redefine what cognitive psychology can do in tandem with UX design to elevate not only your work but the experience each user has with the final product. Look for creative ways to merge theory and practice in your UX design efforts and the final outcome of your efforts will be that much better for it.

About the author:

Dorian Martin is a writer at TopEssayWriting and a content marketing specialist at ClassyEssay. He knows how to craft the best essays and the most engaging social media posts. He is passionate about emerging technologies, psychology, and blogging.