The importance of psychology cannot be overstated if you hope to create a design that makes an impression. When a user visits your website or picks up your leaflet, their first impression will be based on an almost entirely visceral reaction based on how the unconscious brain processes the visual stimuli it is presented with.
By gaining a basic understanding of consumer psychology, you can really get inside the mind of the user. This puts you at a huge advantage, which you can bend in your favour. This relates to websites, printed materials, branding and advertising.
Research has shown that the eye naturally scans a page in either a Z or an F shape, which is sometimes referred to as the Golden Triangle. The best designs usually place the most important information within these guidelines where the eye is most naturally drawn.
The elements on a page can often carry different visual weight; shapes and colours of the same size may be the same size and yet look smaller or further away when placed next to another shape.
Colour is power
Each colour carries with it a different set of associations. Blue is considered to be calming and trustworthy, Yellow is energetic, and happy. Green is often understood to mean go and also has associations with environment and nature. Red naturally screams for attention but can also be seen as a colour that means warning. Colours can also have very different associations depending on how they are teamed within a palette.
Choose your type wisely
There are 1000’s of fonts to choose from in this day and age, and while it may be tempting to get really creative with wacky fonts it is usually best to keep it simple and stick with no more than 2 typefaces. Sans serif fonts are usually seen as clean and modern, while serif (such as Times New Roman) as serious and authoritative. Above all, your font needs to be easy to read. Bear in mind that bold and all caps are good for sub-headings, but make for difficult reading in main body text.
Cut the clutter
Progressive disclosure is a great way of keeping your website clear of visual clutter. Using dropdown menus, accordions and ‘read more’ buttons enables the user to click a button to view the info that is relevant to them, without overwhelming the user with a huge wall of text.
White space provides visual resting space. Providing white space will allow the eye to be drawn to the important information on the page.
People like people
The human brain is naturally wired to be attracted to other people. Using photographs of real people on your site can really help aid your design; for example, a photo of a woman looking towards the centre of the screen will draw the user’s eyes towards what she appears to be focussed on.
And on a final note… did you skip a few sections? You’re not alone. That is what is referred to as the ‘Von Restorff’ effect, where a reader is more likely to read and/or take in the first few and the last few items on a list, and either skim or completely skip the middle. Always lead with the important stuff and end on a positive memorable note, like this one.