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5 Psychology Principles Every Designer Should Know

September 27, 2022
Content Design
Digital Marketing
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5 Psychology Principles Every Designer Should Know

Why do some designs catch people's attention and convey information at the same time, while others are not that efficient? Many people believe that design only encompasses what we see and other elements related to the visual. In reality, there's much more at stake - psychology plays a key role in design. Unlike art, design isn't evaluated only in terms of aesthetics but rather the embedded psychological principles that hold power to influence the viewers' minds and decisions.

What’s the Role of Psychology in Design?

Role of Psychology in design

In recent years, the rise of user-centric design has made designers rethink their approach to their creations and delve deeper to understand the target audience. As a result, designers need to be well-versed in the principles of psychology, as they can help inform their work in a number of ways. In particular, understanding how people process information, make decisions and interact with one another can be helpful in creating designs that are both effective and appealing.

Enhancing Psychology Through Design

Enhancing Psychology Through Design

Being a vast and subjective field of science, there are endless principles of psychology that can be applied to digital products. However, here are five critical psychological concepts that all designers should be aware of.

1. Gestalt's Principles:

Derived from the German word "gestalt," meaning "an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts," Gestalt's principles are further divided into five sub-principles that explain the users' perception of elements concerning each other.

  • Similarity: If users see objects that look similar in shape, color, size, texture, or value, they think of them as individual elements of a group, which makes the design look cohesive.
  • Continuation: This principle uses the natural movement of the human eye from one object to the other to its advantage to guide users' eyes in a specific direction.
  • Closure: This principle relies on the brain's tendency to fill up missing parts of a design to create a whole image.
  • Proximity: Elements placed in close proximity to each other are seen as a group rather than individual elements, even if they are dissimilar.
  • Figure and ground: This principle demonstrates the eye's tendency to distinguish and separate the objects present in the foreground and background of an image when white space is used. Want to emphasize your subject even more? Consider using tools to remove background, allowing your visuals to stand out with clarity and impact.

2. The Principle of Least Effort:

Users are lazy and will take the path of least resistance when interacting with your product. Make sure your design is intuitive and easy to use, or you'll lose users quickly.

Fitt's Law, Hick's Law, Von Restorff Effect, and Gestalt's Principles are among a few that simplify an interface by highlighting and increasing the size of elements, providing precise options, and utilizing spacing between elements to create a specific perception in users' minds.

3. The Principle of Social Proof:

We tend to copy the behavior of others around us. This psychological effect is known as Mirroring and can be applied to web design by displaying previous and most recent images and stories of positive user interactions on the website. Seeing others use a product or service will make users imitate them.

4. The Principle of Scarcity

People are more likely to want something that is scarce or hard to get. This principle is based on the idea that people perceive things that are rare or in short supply as being more valuable.

You can use the principle of scarcity to create a sense of urgency in your designs and encourage people to take action. For example, you could use a limited-time offer or a countdown timer to create a sense of urgency.

5. The Principle of Reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity is based on the idea that people feel obligated to reciprocate when someone does something for them. This principle can be used to encourage people to take action or to make a purchase.

For example, you could offer a free trial or a discount to encourage people to try your product or service. Or, you could give someone a gift with a note that says "return the favor" to encourage them to do something for you in return.

How To Choose The Right Principles?

How To Choose The Right Principles?

Before applying psychological principles to a design, designers must ensure to embed them into their work method first. To know more about the role and integration of psychological principles into design,

Check out the Psychology in Design course on Android.

Check out the Psychology in Design course on iOS.

5 Psychology Principles Every Designer Should Know
Rashika Ahuja
Head of Content & Marketing at ProApp
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Rashika is the brain behind the content strategy on ProApp, both in terms of courses and marketing. She is an Engineer by education but a Content Writer, UX Writer, Marketer, and Mentor by profession. She has worked with tech giants like IBM and Accenture and has spent the last 3 years working with designers and training them. Currently - Focusing on Building an army of creators via ProApp.

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