What are some good UX psychology principles? UX Question #91

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Brody from Orlando, Florida, asks: What are some good UX psychology principles?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Brody. This is UX Question number 91 and I am Ben Judy.

What are some good UX psychology principles? It’s really important to understand that user experience work is inherently about human psychology.

By understanding how people think, perceive, and behave as they interact with our digital products, designers can create interfaces that are intuitive, engaging, and effective. A grasp of psychology principles help designers make informed decisions.

I’ll give you a few examples to get you started.

Hick’s Law states that the time it takes for a person to make a decision increases with the number of options available. So, based on this principle, you may not want to design primary navigation with twenty-five options, or a product search results page with one hundred items.

Fitts’s Law is another principle named after somebody who came up with it. Fitts’s Law says the time to reach a target is determined by the size of the target and its distance from the user. In simpler terms, make links and buttons big enough to be easy to tap or click, and place them in a convenient and easy to reach part of the screen.

A third example is the Von Restorff Effect: when multiple similar objects are present, the one that stands out the most is more likely to be remembered. If you grew up watching Sesame Street, you remember “one of these things is not like the others.” So you use similarity and repetition to make a UI element that is not similar or non repetitive stand out.

Just one more: the Principle of Perpetual Habit. Humans rely on memory, habits, and rituals when performing a routine task. This is where so many UX designers go wrong. Whatever people are used to—you might well consider sticking with that, or you might cause frustration. Don’t re-invent the wheel.

These kinds of principles of course are not the only thing that should guide our design decisions. But I would absolutely expect a designer to be fluent in these principles. If you hire an electrician, you expect him to have knowledge of how electrical current works. If you go to a doctor, you expect her to be fluent in the terminology of anatomy and biology and medicine. If you hire a UX designer—well, they need to know how human brains perceive product design and navigate digital product experiences. In a phrase, UX psychology principles.

I’ve put links in the description to a number of sites and articles where you can explore UX psychology principles.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What is the Double Diamond design process?

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