• Marty Seinamets

UX Laws to leverage your user's psychology (for good)


UX Laws. It’s something familiar for some designers, unfamiliar for others. However, UI and UX designers must know these laws to improve the quality of the user experience when users are visiting their applications and websites.


To understand users’ emotions and behaviours while using our products, we do have to know what drives them to make one decision over another or take one action over another. We find answers to these questions through psychology.


Through decades, scientists have made numerous experiments to understand what is driving human beings to make different decisions and choices. Today, UX designers are also using the same principles and laws proven by scientists.


Sometimes designers are using these laws without knowing it, unconsciously. How is that possible? Designers usually find their inspiration from the design and current trends without thinking what’s the reason behind one or another element being aligned or positioned in a specific way. We will follow the trends.


Let’s find out which UX laws designers might use unconsciously because they have become well-known and popular, but also common in UI and UX design.

#1 — Von Restorff Effect

Let’s imagine we have similar items on the table which could be categorized in the same category. If we changed one’s color and it becomes different and also outstanding, users will remember that item more easily than other elements.


It’s known as the Von Restorff Effect. In UI and UX design, it’s popularly used for call-to-action buttons, slide indicators, and also texts. We have noticed that websites are using outstanding call-to-action buttons that take our attention.


The same applies to slider indicator buttons, also known as dot indicators. We can differentiate the dot indicator of the current slide from other indicators. It helps to understand which slide users are currently on and how many are left.


The Von Restroff Effect is also used for any written content to differentiate any specific content from another and emphasize a specific message. One example is: making a message text bold and also increasing its font size so it stands out.

#2 — Gestalt Laws

The Gestalt Principles is like a family: it’s containing multiple laws to describe how elements position can make users understand which elements can belong together and which ones are creating a separate and new group of elements.


One well-known law for UI and UX designers is the Law of Proximity. It does state that elements that are closer to each other, are taken as one group. So it is separating these elements from other elements that are further away.


In UI and UX design, we can find that law being used on companies' websites who are showing the features their products are offering. But, the same law is also used in other situations, e.g. displaying different products on websites.


The Gestalt Principles focus on decreasing the possible frustration that might occur when users are using our websites, apps, or other digital products. That is supposed to support users in accomplishing specific goals with less effort.

#3 — Hick’s Law

We have used applications and websites where it’s necessary to make different decisions or choose between multiple options, e.g. online stores. We look for a specific item and have to go through multiple categories to find that one item.


It can lead users to frustration. In some cases, users do also start overthinking. It’s related to Hick’s Law which states: the more choices or options we give to the users to choose from, the longer it takes them to choose a specific option.


Some online stores are splitting bigger tasks into smaller ones. It allows them to give users fewer options or choices at once. For example, before showing a name of a product, users can choose the right category, e.g. shoes or jackets.


Once the user has chosen a specific category, some new options and choices will appear on the screen, showing different brands of the specific category. After choosing the brand, users will see different models for a chosen brand.


The fewer options or choices we give to users at once, the better for our users. It helps us with avoiding users feeling confusion and frustration while visiting our websites or applications. We have to split huge tasks into smaller ones.

Conclusion

Sometimes designers become inspired by others’ design work and would love to create something similar. However, each design decision we make, do have a specific reason why that decision was preferred over other choices we had. 


We should also know the reasons behind others’ design decisions because it’s also teaching us something new about Design. Ask a question: What might be the reason behind these specific elements being positioned like that? 


These decisions are often made based on different UX laws which are helping us to create a better experience for our users when using our websites or apps. If you’d like to read more about UX laws, here are some additional links for it:


The Designer’s Guide to Von Restorff Effect

7 Gestalt principles of visual perception

Gestalt Laws: Laws of Proximity and Similarity

Gestalt Principles

13 Psychology Principles All UX Designers Should Know

Psychology And UX Design: 5 Principles You Need To Know

22 Basic UX Laws That Every Designer Should Know

Psychology in Design. Principles Helping to Understand Users

The 15 Rules Every UX Designer Should Know

A Guide to Psychology Principles in UX Design

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