3 Ways to Improve Web Design Using Psychology

Contributed article in our business series. Enjoy! – Kimberly

With the proliferation of online commerce and the increasing interconnectedness of our planet, it has never been more important to stand out from the crowd with good, eye-popping design. However, it is not enough to merely grab people’s attention on the web; you need to know what to do with it once it has been gained.

Here are three psychological principles to help you make the best use of your personal online space.

1. Pattern

The English language is the predominant means of communication online. Unless you are designing your website with a specific market in mind, China being a standout example, you will want to tailor your web presence to suit the mentality and the tendencies of English speakers.

English speakers read from the top of the page downward, and from left to right, in a zigzag pattern. So you would be best served by putting your most important information on the upper left corner of the page since that is where their eyes will first rest. What they see there will help them form their first impressions.

2. Color        

It is not by coincidence that so many mainstream websites use soft blues in their logos, advertising, and imagery. Blue is seen as a calming, serene color. It also evokes feelings of order, stability, and trustworthiness. It is for these reasons that companies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google rely so heavily on a blue-tinted color palette.

But maybe that isn’t for you. Perhaps you prefer to evoke feelings of power or fear. In that case, a dash of red might do you good. If you want to be viewed as health-conscious, environmentally-friendly sort, a green tint would be more your speed. Just ask British Petroleum, who began to win environmental awards after merely changing their corporate logo to a green flower.

Color can have a profound impact on viewers, but it is a subtle one, often overlooked even by those who know to expect it. Proper exploitation of the fundamental nature of color can reap massive dividends for very little outlay. Other colors like silver and grey color schemes work wonders.

3. Emotion

People are not rational creatures. We too often let our feelings and emotions guide our decision-making. Savvy designers can exploit this tendency to their benefit.

A prime example of this principle can be found in drug advertisements. While the commercial is telling you a list of horrible potential side-effects of a given drug, such as death, constipation, cancer, and death, they will show you images of a smiling, happy family, frolicking through a field with a new puppy.

This aids people in ignoring the negative information they are hearing and causes them to leave with an overall positive experience of the drug. They will subconsciously associate it with cuteness and lovability rather than potential risk. This result is based in part on this imagery.

For the web, employing this same tactic can significantly alter your image. Do you represent a bank? Don’t show photos of business people in suits. Have pictures of smiling homeowners proudly on display, or pictures of happy construction workers breaking ground on a new office complex. Skip past the logical reasoning center of people’s minds and speak directly to their emotional core, and the battle for their pocketbooks is already halfway won.

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