Psychology Principles That Can Help Your Designs

Good design involves knowing as much about people as how to use Photoshop and other design programs. In past blogs, we’ve discussed how color can influence the mood and the message you hope to convey. Today, we’re looking at ways to apply other psychological principles to help create better website design.

Psychology Principles and Design

  • Shapes: Similar to how blues and cool colors suggest relaxation while reds, oranges, and yellows suggest excitement, shapes can offer similar associations. Circular shapes, such as ovals and ellipses can be associated with positive feelings and friendship; squares and triangles may offer a sense of strength and balance; while vertical lines can give your website a feeling of strength and aggression.
  • Van Restorff Effect: Using this principle, you can make sure a user’s eyes are drawn to certain parts of the page. Simply put, the Van Restorff Effect involves adding something unique amid a row or collection of similar objects. Imagine a row of white and black soccer balls, but one is bright pink. What are your eyes drawn to?
  • Mental Models: You want your design to be intuitive, meaning people will be able to navigate it almost by instinct. Ways to help encourage this include visuals moving left-to-right and top-to-bottom. You can also have a friend or coworker look at your design to make sure it is intuitive.
  • Gestalt Principle: With this principle, you can take several elements or images and group them together to create a single, cohesive logo. For example, the Olympics logo or the NBC logo use several elements of a similar shape to create a single cohesive one, but still allow a person to focus on individual elements as well. You can create a very unique and fun logo this way.
  • Visceral Reaction: Basically, you create a design with the intent to generate a deep and immediate reaction in your viewers. For example, a children’s dentist may use balloons, trees, or other images to give parents a visceral reaction that makes them feel it is a safe, fun place for their kids. You have to go with your gut, and make sure everyone else does, too.

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