Designing Websites for the Psychology of a Modern Web User

It’s been almost two decades since the Internet was introduced to the world. The number of computers online has grown exponentially; the number of users has risen from a handful to billions around the world. The invention of the World Wide Web as a method of publishing information created the first Web browser, Mosaic, and since then the number of Web sites and pages has exploded.

We humans are extremely complex creatures. We’re a mass of nerves, hormones, and emotions, many of which we’re not conscious of going through, even for something as routine as browsing the internet.

The psychology behind web design in particular is a relatively new area of study, but the elements that make up the research are not — colour, positioning, and imagery all help designers create effective visuals that play positively to the psychology of their target. A good website does ‘what it’s supposed to’, a great one does what the user didn’t know they wanted.

In order to build a great website, understanding how different design elements play a part in influencing the mood, attitude, and experience will put you on the right path.

Name

If the eyes are the windows to our souls, then the name of your website is the digital equivalent.

Buying a domain name can be done in just 5 minutes with different web hosting providers such as Discount Domains, GoDaddy, and 123 Reg. You merely need to search for the domain you have in mind to get started on the design. If you can’t get an exact match domain for your brand, then it must at all costs be relevant to what the page is about. Avoid names that are hard to spell, or ones that deliberately mislead.

Colour

It’s true that when designing a website, the choice of colours are dictated by the brand and in some cases its competitors, adding an extra angle to why the proper use of colour is important. This includes texts, background, foreground…the list goes on.

In web design, colour and space are symbiotic elements that impact on one other. Neutral colours like white, gray, or black give the illusion of ‘space’, and are excellent for controlling focus and attention. Very few pages can get away with presenting a kaleidoscope of colours because it is confusing and overwhelming for most users. It takes 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product, 62-90% do it simply by the colour of the product alone.

 

A predominantly blue, green, or purple website is said to be considered inviting, professional and trustworthy — suitable for financial institutions. Although, it is worth noting that these colours are also considered to be distant and old-fashioned. Warmer colours like yellow, orange, and red conjure a feeling of warmth and creativity, but can also be thought of as unreliable. So, you must be mindful of your choice of colour palette.

Space

The way your site is organized can radically affect a visitor’s experience. Whilst organizing your content and information is top priority, attention should be paid to the visuals as well. If a visitor comes across a screen crowded with words, graphics, animations, and videos, it quickly starts to be processed as chaos, confusion, and too much work to find what they want.

White space is an area in a design where no attention demanding element is present. It acts as a mental and physical resting place for the user. This respite from information to process is important because a) previous information can be properly catalogued, and b) visitors are less likely to be overwhelmed. Every page on a site should have a purpose and a focus, and this focus should be apparent from sight. Whether it’s to highlight a new product or social media information, your design should not confuse or mislead.

Content

Humans are creatures of habit. We look for patterns in certain activities so that we can carry out any action with as little cognitive exertion as possible, saving brain power for more important things. Interacting with the web is one of the activities we have developed a pattern around. Click up here to sign out, click down there for help; we attempt to match what we see with what we already know. You must be intimately familiar with these patterns and include them in your design thinking if you want your website to succeed. Reports have shown that people tend to scan websites in a “Z” pattern, starting from the top left and ending in the bottom right corner of the screen. This is why analysts suggest putting the most important information at the top.

You have mere seconds to capture a user’s attention, so make an instant connection by putting forward their purpose for being there. Take the time to think about what your target is looking for and how they expect it to be presented, and you’re well on your way to creating a great website.

 

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