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Psychological Patterns to Use in UX Design Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Psychological Patterns to Use in UX Design

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The first requir­ement before you start any constr­uction, though, is the bluepr­inting phase. The same early brains­torming and planning stage is crucial to success in design too. This so-called bluepr­inting phase mostly falls under the purview of user experience (UX) designers. To continue the house-­bui­lding analogy, UX designers are often the “archi­tects” of a project. While they may not be doing a whole lot of actual constr­uction, their bluepr­int­s—p­rot­otypes and wirefr­ame­s—are crucial for the design of a website or app.

While the design process is highly technical by nature, it’s important for designers to remember that they are making a product for real human beings. To that end, psychology in UX design is a crucial consid­eration if you want your website to attract and hold the attention of your target users.

1. Establ­ishing Trust

This is a good thing to consider in general, but it does have important implic­ations for UX design specif­ically. When a user clicks on your website or opens your app, they’re assuming a certain level of trust from the website. Some elements of trust are obviou­s—don’t install viruses on their computer, don’t add items randomly to their cart, etc.,—but others have more to do with the way the users navigate and interact with the site. Consider again the house-­bui­lding analogy. When you’re drawing the bluepr­ints, you wouldn’t design a staircase that led to nowhere or a doorway that led directly into a wall, would you? Of course not.

Users expect to be able to navigate through your site or app the same way every time, and they assume a certain level of intuit­iveness and transp­arency in the naviga­tion. Establish trust with your audience by providing that in the setup of your website. Clear navigation markers that delineate a user’s movement through a site’s pages and direct easily back to the homepage are crucial first steps, as is being transp­arent with your placement of key inform­ation. If you’re an online store, make the checkout process intuitive and clear; don’t hide the shipping costs or the customer reviews of a product. Even if there are bad reviews, users will appreciate that you’re at least providing them that inform­ation and can shop elsewhere on the site.

2. The Illusion of Choice

There’s an intere­sting paradox in human psychology regarding the ability to make choices. On one hand, humans like having an array of options to choose from. Namely, they don’t like being told what to do. They like having the freedom to pick whatever option most suits their fancy. On the other hand, though, many studies show that having too many choices distresses users.

A phenomenon known as decision fatigue dictates that humans get easily overwh­elmed when they have too many choice­s—just think of how many minutes you’ve wasted staring at a wall of many different laundry detergents at the grocery store—­often leading people to regretting the choices they do make. Typically, you have a goal that you want your users to achieve. Maybe it’s to subscribe to your site, sign up for an email newsle­tter, or buy a certain product. The choices presented to the user, no matter what they are, should in some way direct the user to that final goal. Let them compare two products from your site side-b­y-side, for example. It gives them the illusion of having a shopping choice, but the ultimate goal, buying something from you, is the same.

3. Rewards

It’s a well-e­sta­blished psycho­logical principle that the promise of a reward can motivate users to do a lot of things. There are, of course, lots of ways to reward users for being loyal to your site, but there’s a delicate balance to this rewards process that has its roots in human psycho­logy. Top UX designers relish the chance to go deep in this regard by utilizing the emotions associated with rewards.

All sorts of tiny detail­s—c­olors, fonts, shapes, you name it—can trigger implicit emotions that subcon­sci­ously encourage a user to perform a certain action. Maybe the desired goal for your users requires a few steps, such as creating an account, setting notifi­cation prefer­ences, and finally engaging with the product for the first time. Giving a series of encour­aging or funny messages within the step-b­y-step guide will trigger the feeling of reward as each step is completed, driving the users to keep going to the ultimate destin­ation. You could even go an extra step by promising from the get-go some additional rewards or access to exclusive content that you get for signing up, prompting users to pursue a more tangible reward.