Design Psychology and the Neuroscience of Awesome UX

Website design combines elements of artistry and business savviness, but it also incorporates elements of psychology and neurology. The principles of proper UX design as you know them rely on our understanding the human mind and how it reacts to certain stimuli. Some of the principles are intuitive, while others require more thorough research into the subject. If you’re wondering about the impact of psychology and neuroscience on UX, we’ve compiled a few of the most notable principles that connect them.

Visual communication in design

When designing a website for an optimal user experience, you utilize visual communication first and foremost. It’s important to understand how visual stimuli affect the brain and what makes a design effective.

Every time a user clicks on your website, the visual stimuli provided by your design is processed in the occipital lobe of the brain. This is the part that receives and interprets what we see. It’s the primary visual area, and as such, analyzes various aspects of the visual stimuli. This includes the colors, shapes, and movements involved on the page. Once processed, our brain draws conclusions based on the presented image.

The way designers should approach this is by utilizing the concept of anticipatory design. This is the process that creates pre-emptive decisions by predicting the needs of a user. In simpler terms, you want to create an obvious visual hierarchy that lets users know what the most important elements are. This impacts the user’s overall navigational experience.

There are many different ways to implement effective design decisions based on this principle.

Occam’s Razor tells you to limit elements

As the saying goes—simple is always better. This is part of the principle of Occam’s Razor, which states that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Occam’s Razor is mentioned as a principle in everything from forensics to storytelling. In much the same way, designers can utilize it to give users a better experience on their websites.

Having too many options on a particular page sounds like a good idea, but in practice, it’s as far from it as you can get. People are easily overwhelmed when presented with an abundance of choices. If you implement too many elements or product choices on a particular page, you’re more likely to get a high bounce rate than conversions. Your best bet would be to keep things simple and well organized.

What if you have a lot of products, services, or blog pages that you want to showcase? Good categorization and navigation can help you get your point across without overwhelming visitors. Clump similar products together in bundles when presenting them on a page. Don’t include all of them, but rather signal that there’s a specific type of product in the bundle without saying so explicitly. You can see this practice in action in most large online marketplaces. Compare this with older websites that still keep hundreds of results on their front pages. They are hardly ever visited by new users, as the design is clunky and drives people away.

Branding and its effects on consumers

Pattern recognition is a key part of how our brains function. Noticing patterns in chaotic bunches of stimuli helps us recognize what we need in our surroundings. In many ways, you can say that our brains seek out patterns even if they aren’t present.

Complimenting this behavior can help designers draw attention to their websites. Consider what your target demographic wants to see when they visit your website. They will have certain expectations and matching them will positively affect users’ opinions of your design.

This is part of the principle of building a strong business brand. Create a recognizable brand that suits a company and its products, and you can guarantee that users will have a good impression of it. The question is—how do you match a user’s expectations? There’s no simple answer, but basic UX and design principles can give you hints. The way you display colors and patterns says a lot about the personality of your website and the business that it represents. You can use intuition and psychology to get a good grasp of the appropriate schemes for a website.

Color design for websites

The impact of colors on your marketing materials and users’ perception shouldn’t be disregarded. Color can make or break your website’s design, and it has an important role in branding. This should come as no surprise, as color psychology is everywhere in advertising. You might have noticed this in some obvious examples, such as how the color blue and white are used. It’s implied that soft blue hues evoke feelings of calm and serenity. A website that wants to look modern and sterile will use white and faded colors.

You certainly know the red and yellow design of the McDonald’s logo. Red moves people to action, while yellow is a cheerful and energetic color, which is helpful when marketing towards children. However, you may note that this combination of colors also elicits thoughts of food. This is what makes matching different colors with one another so interesting and dynamic. With the right color and pattern combination, you can elicit different emotional responses. This can come in handy during website UX design when applied properly. The problem is that it takes time and thorough design research to figure out the best combination for your brand. While it is a challenging task, it pays off tremendously for brand strength.

Speed and convenience as optimization factors

When people are searching for a particular product or service, they want instantaneous results. Even if they’re the patient type, they will always trend towards websites that load faster. There are many reasons for this. Most laymen don’t know the effort that goes into creating and optimizing a website. To them, a quick result is an absolute positive, in spite of any other elements a website can offer. After all, who wants to spend more time than they have to searching for something if there are faster and more convenient options elsewhere?

Designers often run into problems when optimizing for SEO and page load speed. There are difficult choices to be made when sacrificing certain elements to improve performance. Where do you draw the line between having an attractive, functional website and one that loads quickly? This is one of the more challenging aspects of optimizing pages. Search engines place enormous value on pages that load quickly, which is another reason to strive for this goal.

When it comes to advanced optimization techniques, businesses often turn to outside assistance. Finding a reliable web design agency that can optimize your website is a lot easier and more affordable than having a team dedicated to the job. Not to mention, an internal team might not have the necessary experience to deal with the highest level of SEO and UX at the same time. Hiring outside help for a short time can do wonders for long-term SEO and organic traffic results.

The design of written content

The performance of your content marketing strategy depends on multiple factors. The most obvious is the quality and usefulness of the written text. Can users get any useful information from the content? Do the quality and presentation increase trust in your brand? These are crucial questions you have to ask when formulating your digital marketing strategy. However, they’re not the only questions that await you.

You also have to look at the text from a psychological and aesthetic point of view. Is it easy to read? Can users navigate to a section that interests them within seconds? If not, you will have a problem on your hands. There’s nothing users find more off-putting than seeing thousand-word blocks of text on a single page. These walls of text aren’t easy to navigate, which means users won’t even bother. The presentation is everything when it comes to written content.

Consider the color and pattern examples that we mentioned before. These also apply to textual content and they can influence the reader’s ability to comprehend the text you present. Our brains focus on the text itself and how it’s presented. If the text is too small or too big, it won’t be nearly as effective as regular-sized text. What’s even more important is the background and spacing. Closely-packed text is illegible, especially if it’s against a harsh background. You need to create enough white space between lines to make it easier for users to comprehend the text. Create a soft, yet exact contrast between the background and the text. It helps make the letters pop while not being too in-your-face.


When it comes to human psychology and its impact on design, there’s a lot of information to unpack. Some of it is already familiar to many designers, though much of it remains a slight mystery even in psychology. Getting to know how your users think lets you better prepare a website for their needs—and that’s the core principle. You must know what your users want before they do. This allows you to create the most-helpful website while also increasing its number of leads and conversions.

About the author: Sidney R

Sidney is an editor and copywriter for Top Online Store Builders, covering topics ranging from starting an online store from scratch to all aspects of ecommerce marketing and cyber-security. When not writing, Sidney can be found hiking, traveling or surfing.

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