5 Psychology-Backed Design Tips to Make Your Website More Effective

The message you put together for your brand is important, but it’s not limited just to the words you choose. In fact, the way you present that message is equally, if not more important. Even the most subtle factors of your web design like color scheme and font can impact how visitors view your brand.

So, does that mean that your website must be elegant or stunning? Not quite really. Only the best built website will experience a high failure rate if it doesn’t perform well. So if people don’t linger on your platform that means you ‘re missing the opportunity to convert them.

What you need is a website that loads fast and is easy to navigate. But beyond this there are also a few principles of psychology that can help improve your website’s usability and subsequently increase the amount of engagement you get from visitors.

Let’s take a closer look at five psychology-backed design tips that you can apply to make your website more effective.

1. Use colors and fonts that evoke emotion.

Much research has been done on how different colors can influence human emotion. For instance, bright red can elicit feelings of energy and boldness while certain shades of blue can induce feelings of serenity.

Psychologist Robert Plutchik summed it up well in his colorful “Wheel of Emotions”

Because colors stir up emotion, they can increase brand recognition by up to 80% and play a significant role in conversion rate.

Yet one important thing to bear in mind is that there is no single universal color that can transform better uniformly through all of your marketing campaigns. Your shoppers’ gender, shopping habits and culture will influence their preferences for colour.

The aim is to select a color palette that suits the style of your brand, accentuate your beliefs and resonate with your target audience. From there, you might need to do some good old-fashioned A / B testing to find out what works and where any improvements may be needed.

In addition to color scheme, the fonts you use on your website also play a role in making an impression on your visitors. Fonts that are clearly legible, for instance, make your content more readable. Fonts can also induce certain moods which people will then associate with your brand. Therefore, you want to choose fonts that evoke the right kind of emotions within your target audience.

Here’s a handy infographic that demonstrates the psychology of fonts:

The right fonts can also serve as a way to differentiate your website from others. Check out this font directory from Google to get some ideas flowing and see what styles match your brand best. You can also refer to these expert tips if you need help choosing a font.

2. Use the Gestalt principle of symmetry.

Most people dislike disorder. Therefore, conveying information in a symmetrical and orderly manner can help your audience to more quickly understand and comprehend. Conversely, when there is a sense of imbalance in the composition of your website, it may affect the user’s ability to concentrate.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use asymmetry, however. In fact, you can and should leverage this to draw attention to certain elements of your website that you want to stand out, such as your calls to action.

Check out this resource for more information on how to use Gestalt’s principles in the design of your website.

3. Trigger a visceral reaction.
What is a visceral reaction? Well, it’s what happens when something triggers an automatic response from our central nervous system. It’s like an instinctual feeling.

The fact is, we all react to certain things on a subconscious level. And the way we are affected subconsciously is pretty consistent regardless of our gender or demographic.

When you trigger a visceral reaction with your website, you make people instinctually feel so good about it that they want to experience it again. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to use compelling imagery. Simply put, beautiful pictures make people happy.

Choosing the right images for your site can help you create enjoyable and, more importantly, memorable experiences for your visitors.

4. Utilize “Hick’s Law” in your design.
A series of experiments were conducted by psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman to determine human capacity for cognitive information. What they found was that thereafter, that the number of options decreases the amount of time it takes to make a decision.

You may already be familiar with the application of this law in what’s widely referred to as the “jam study.” In this study it was discovered that when the number of choices of jam flavors at a store was decreased by 18, sales of jam skyrocketed from 3% to 30%.

From a web design perspective, cutting down the number of options that you provide to your visitors to the bare minimum – aka your most compelling and relevant offers – can dramatically improve conversion.

For best results, focus on the following key elements:

  • Keep the number of form fields to a minimum
  • Use only the social share buttons for networks where your audience is most active
  • Each landing page should have only one goal (i.e. one CTA)
  • Include only the most relevant items in your navigation bar
  • Avoid having too many clickable items on your home page

5. Put your users first and focus on making personal connections.

The ultimate goal of your website design should be connecting with your audience on an emotional level. If you’re unable to quickly and effectively communicate an offer that is relevant to a user the moment he or she arrives on your site, you’re not getting the job done.

Here are a couple of tips for improving user engagement:

Gather qualitative insights through user interviews and experience tests.

It’s fantastic data from stuff like Google Analytics but it doesn’t dig deep enough. It just tells you what and how your visitors are doing on your site, but it doesn’t delve into the why. Performing user behavior surveys and analyzing feedback will provide far more useful insight into particular elements of your website.

Leverage the power of storytelling.

Yet again, the aim is to elicit some form of emotional reaction from your target audience, and storytelling can be the most efficient and successful way to accomplish this. Yet telling stories isn’t just about words on a screen. Your website design will tell a story too. Your visual story is just as relevant actually as your written one. The question is, is your design’s story compelling and memorable enough?