Thought processes, behavioral patterns, the predictability of experiences — these are subjects of study in both psychology and UX design.
Understanding psychology directly improves how well you design, but how can that help short of getting a Masters? Read these 14 design psychology articles for a crash course in designing for the human mind.
If one person can teach about web psychology, it’s Liraz Margalit, PhD, and resident psychologist at a website optimization firm. Her feature covers the basics, including stress responses, instincts, and the expectation of perceived control.
If there was every any doubt, this piece proves the deep link between psychology and UX design, not to mention to one of many peculiarities of the mind. More than dwelling on the science, Ivana McConell also offers some good workarounds to a bad experience.
Ximena Vengoechea and Nir Eyal team up to explain the right and the wrong way to design notifications, and their role in developing habit loops to ensure a user’s repeated and continual patronage.
4. Combining UX Design and Psychology to Change User Behavior
As a UX designer, you’re in charge of your user’s behavior, for better or worse. Nadine Kintscher explains how designers can influence and guide what they user does, including tips on motivation mapping and identifying triggers.
5. How to Design Websites that Mirror How Our Eyes Work
Psychology isn’t just about how we think, speak, and act — it’s also how we see. Learn some science about human eyesight and viewing patterns, and more importantly how to apply them to UX design.
6. The Meaning of Shapes: Developing Visual Grammar
A fascinating read for everyone, but professionally applicable for UX practitioners, Steven Bradley’s piece dissects the greater meanings behind everyday shapes.
7. Psychology Power of Closure Experiences
Closure experiences, with definitive beginnings and endings, can have a great effect on the user’s mind, but in experience and reflection. Joe Macleod describes the relevant psychology behind closure experiences, and solid tactics for making the most of them.
8. Dark Patterns: Deception vs. Honesty in UI Design
This piece shines a light on dark patterns, UI patterns that rely on deception or misleading the user to influence their behavior. Harry Brignull discusses them in-depth and with an open-mind, at times even defending them, and compares them with honest alternatives.
9. Cognitive Psychology for the UX: The Principle of Least Effort
As part of an ongoing series, the UserTesting team studies individual psychology principles and their applications in UX design. The entry on the Principle of Least Effort complements Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, explaining why we prefer faster, automatic responses to calculated analysis, and its implication on UX design.
10. Cognitive Psychology and UX: The Principle of Limited Attention
Another entry to the UserTesting series, this article covers what users pay attention to and why. Using scientific backing, the piece describes topics like inattentional blindness, compromised attention spans, and what causes items to become background noise.
11. 5 Psychology Secrets for Great Interaction Design
Just as the title suggests, the article gives 5 practical interaction design techniques based in psychology — ranging from empathy tips to shortcuts for establishing emotional connections, to — plus the best practices for applying them.
12. The Psychology Behind High Converting Sites
What are high converting sites doing that you’re not? Peter Boyle brings psychology to CRO, spelling out concepts like the decoy effect, the pleasure principle, the Law of Prägnanz, Hick’s Law, and mental models.
13. Brain Hacks: Using Psychology in Web Design
A broad discussion of psychology in web design, but nevertheless full of actionable techniques any designer can use, Stephen Moyer’s article is a good place to start for beginners. He talks a little on a lot, covering the deeper meanings in colors, imagery, and typefaces.
14. How to Create Emotion with Color in UX Design
Every color — even every shade — creates predictable emotional responses in the viewer, even if subtle. Learn the 12 most common colors and their implications on web design, including screenshot examples from real sites for each one.
More UX Best Practices
To dive deeper into your users’ heads, download the free Practical Interaction Design Ebook Bundle.
This package contains three of our most popular ebooks on psychology applied to design (Interaction Design Best Practices Volume I & Volume II, Consistency in UI Design), with over 250 pages and 60 real examples analyzed.