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The Psychology Behind Design

The role of Psychology in Design

Most people think that design is only an artistic expression of creativity but on a deeper level it is more than that. There is a lot of psychology behind design which designers can implement in their designs to lead people to specific actions such as clicking a link, signing up to a newsletter or making a purchase. Here we will go over a few basic psychological principles that are often implemented in design.

Gestalt Principles

This principle explores a users visual perception of elements in relation to one another. It shows how users tend to place elements into groups based on 5 principles:


If a user sees objects that are similar, they may perceive them as individual elements of one group. Similarity between these groups can be defined with shapes, colour, size, texture or value. This gives users a sense of coherence between the elements within the design.


The human eye moves naturally from one element to the next this is often achieved through creating curved lines allowing the eye to flow with the line.


The human eye also tends to see closed shapes. This principle works where incomplete an object is perceived a full shape because the user fills in the missing part of the shape.


Objects placed in close proximity are usually perceived as a group by the user where as objects placed far apart are seen as individual elements.


This principle shows the human eyes’ tendency to separate objects from their background. This gives a perception of depth in the design.

Designers should keep these principles in mind when working as it can be used to eliminate the possibility of users misunderstanding the purpose of the design and it can be used to help guide people to specific actions.

Visceral Reactions

This reaction comes from a part of our brain known as the ‘’old brain’’ and is responsible for our instincts and reacts faster than our conscious brain. Designers can use this to help create designs people instantly fall in love with by creating an aesthetic impression. All one needs to know is what their target market likes to see. Often things like high res imagery and colourful pictures on landing pages are used to create this impression.


Colours have huge influence on the human mind, behaviour and reactions. Below is an image depicting the different range of emotions behind colours:

The Psychology Behind Design

Hicks Law

Hicks Law states that’s more options users are exposed to, the longer it takes them to make a decision. This means that it is best to give your user fewer options and choices you want them to make. Keep options including pages buttons and images to a minimum. By removing unnecessary choices you improve the usability of the product making it more effective.

Psychology is a powerful tool for creators to use in their creative process to achieve more user-cantered results. Here you have learnt about 4 principles but this is only the beginning, there is so much more to this topic that you can dive into in order to create amazing and effective designs.