Psychology and UX: The perfect user experience

Written by raj preetham  »  Updated on: April 22nd, 2024

Psychology and UX: The perfect user experience

How psychology and user experience complement each other to work for the customer

One day when I was stuck redesigning a website , I thought about the imaginary possibility of taking that website to a psychologist. But if that happened, what problems would you have? Perhaps the website would confess its problem of incomprehension. “No matter how many signs I give, no one gets where he should go ,” he would say anguished. 

If as a UX designer I want to improve the user experience of that website, could psychology help me? The answer is yes.

For a long time, psychology and UI UX design services have been related from a cognitive and social point of view. The skill of observation, the identification of motivations and frustrations, is essential for both professions.

The goal: that you enjoy a good experience


The idea of ​​including psychology in the UX area may seem implausible if its definition as a behavioral science is not understood. Psychology, applied in various fields, provides a vision and approach that facilitates the work of multidisciplinary teams .

In parallel, the term UX is new in our country. A profession that is the cause and consequence of innovation and digital transformation. Therefore, its definition can be as difficult as that of psychology. But let's summarize it as: the effects that using a product produces on us. 

Every time a user interacts with a website, product or service, they live an experience. The perceptions and emotions that occur will determine her opinion and recommendation.

Our job as UX designers is to ensure that the user has a simple journey and their tasks do not expand beyond a couple of clicks. Satisfaction, frustration or neutrality will be the evidence of our work.

If we subject the user to spending extra time to understand our design, we will turn the experience into frustration. But if we invite psychology to this journey of emotions, we would have an ally to analyze and predict user behavior.

Why is psychology useful for better UX?


As UX designers eager for knowledge, learning about psychology will give us tools to know our users better. Because? Due to the almost universal law that users do not like to think more than necessary.

Steve Krus, in his book “Don't Make Me Think,” states that distractions on a website produce doubts and a greater cognitive process that hinders our attention . Specifically, we forgot what we had to do. And in the worst case, abandonment occurs.

 For Julian Galan, the solution is the union of psychology and UX. A relationship based on commitment to work, passion for learning and intimacy to get to know the user . A relationship built in the context of the designer's need, to know what goes through the user's mind when he uses our application.

When we design the flow of a website, we keep in mind that it should be simple, easy to understand and with a pleasant look and feel. Without realizing it, we are thinking about what the user's cognitive process will be like.


The cognitive process is the set of mental processes that we carry out to capture, store and understand information. In addition, it brings with it an emotional charge that gives the experience meaning and value. 

For Steve Krus, when using a website the mental process begins. But doubts also arise. As confusion increases, our attention dilutes and confusion begins. To avoid these problems, without realizing it, we make use of techniques and laws related to psychology.

Five principles of psychology that can be applied in UX design:


We can affirm that designing involves entering people's minds. Understand your way of thinking and your ability to understand the information we provide you. And thus be able to detect their needs and emotions.

Therefore, these five principles can help us understand how to enter people's minds through the user experience. 

1. Serial position effect


It refers to the fact that the user remembers with greater precision the objects that are at the beginning and end of a series. This occurs because the first item is stored in long-term memory and the last in short-term memory.

For example, in a list of items for sale, the opening text should be the main benefit of the product and the closing text persuasive messages. So when the user leaves the page, they will remember that data and will be tempted to return. 

2. Isolation or Von Restorff effect


If we present the user with several similar objects, they are more likely to remember the one that is different.

This usability principle is used in the design of CTAs . These stand out from the buttons and other interface elements. Furthermore, its differentiation generates a different perception of value in the user.

The isolation effect is also applied when we want the user to select a certain option. For example, when we offer the “recommended item” and it is shown with a different color than the others.

3. Zeigarnik Effect


This effect was discovered and studied by Bluma Zeigárnik. It is summarized in the user's tendency to remember incomplete tasks better than those already completed.

Its origin dates back to Zeigárnik's observation of some waiters in a cafe in Austria. He noticed that they could remember the orders perfectly. But once they had surrendered and returned to collect the bill, they had forgotten it. 

After several experiments, he determined that people remember unfinished tasks. Because our memory is aware of them.

This effect can be useful, in case we need the user to return to complete a task or action. If incentives are added for each mission completed, the effect can be improved.

4. Hick's and Fittz's Law

Hick's law indicates that the time it takes the user to decide varies based on the number of options presented. 

This law becomes important when designing websites or forms that display a large number of options. The higher these are, the user's uncertainty will increase.

Hick's law is complemented by Fittz's law, established by Paul Fitts in 1954. This determines that 'The time necessary to reach the objective is a function of the distance and size that must be traveled to reach it.' 

For its part, Fittz's Law explains that the navigation options are in the upper corner of the interface, and that the user has difficulty interacting with small buttons.

5. Image superiority effect


A picture is worth a thousand words, it is the correct definition of this effect. It determines that texts that are accompanied by an image will be more remembered by users than those that only have textual information. 

John Medina, molecular biologist and author of “Brain Rules,” states that vision dominates how we perceive the world. In one of the experiments cited, he shows that people can remember 65% of the information if it is presented to them with images. But if the content is only textual or oral, they will remember 10%.

In conclusion


User experience design, due to its recent application, UI UX Design agency is constantly changing and developing. Its dynamic nature requires a flexible environment focused on understanding the user in order to anticipate their actions.

Therefore, it needs the convergence of a multidisciplinary team, which provides new ideas and techniques that contribute to generating value in the user experience.  

Psychology, as an area in charge of understanding behavior, is positioned as one of the first areas that contribute to the creation of an optimal experience. His techniques are already used by designers. But if they are applied with true understanding, they will be able to create products that are intuitive and easy to understand. Products that will not need a session with the psychologist. 

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