Five Psychology Principles for Better UX Design

Among the most significant fields that demand a lot from developers and designers is the user experience field. Learning the user interaction and their thinking as they use developed software, apps and websites help in understanding their psychology about the software or applications they use. Therefore, UX experts must monitor and explore the user feelings, perceptions, and behaviors exhaustively as they use newly developed applications or any other software.  Usually, the development of any software or application, say a website, requires that the development team put the end product’s final user at the center. Once this consideration is under implementation, an entire developmental project will always result in user satisfaction.

For this reason, in this piece, we shall explore the fundamental principles that will always aid in developing systems with the best user experiences. It is also essential to keep in mind that user experience mostly goes hand in hand with the user interface. Thus, as you focus on giving your software or application the best user experience, you should also strategize on a good interface.

Therefore, it is crucial to consider that psychological principles are prime in helping the developer and the designer better understand design experiences and, therefore, work on designing the best experiences for the end-user. More extraordinary user experiences provide a smoother way to use and understand the functionality and operation of a given developed software or application. Such user experiences should bring positive feelings to the end-user and direct the user on the pathway. This piece slices that entire UX design into five crucial psychological principles to help designers develop commendable UX design experiences. Let’s scale down from the most crucial one, Miller’s law, up to the Hicks Law. Meanwhile, let us swing into these essential principles.

Five Principles of UX Design Psychology

ux psychology principles

Serial Position Effect

It is crucial to understand that most users or people have great memorability for the first and last elements in a list instead of those in the middle. Therefore, the serial position effect is another tremendous psychological principle every UX designer should have at their fingertips. With the guide, the UX designer will always understand the need for adequately arranging every element in a list in order of priority. For instance, when striving to go hand in hand with these psychological principles, a commendable UX designer should always ensure that essential items lie top on the list and bottom on the list – these items would be easily remembered by most users. More importantly, the principle stretches further to specifically highlight the area on a list where the user will recall the items best – the end of the list (Recency Effect phenomenon).

The Primacy Effect in mind (frequent recollection of the first few items in a list instead of those in the middle) will also help the UX designer design a great user experience. Therefore, every UX designer with the psychological principle in mind will always strive to provide a good user experience through limiting distractions, optimizing the content flow and user direction, and redirecting towards specific outcomes.

Miller’s Law

The roots of these crucial psychological UX design principles trace back to a renewed American psychologist George Miller. He tries to simplify the guide so it’s understandable and self-explanatory. In his law, Miller asserts that there’s a potential to keep approximately seven pieces of information in a person’s working memory. An extra or less of 2 pieces of information in the working memory is possible for every average person.

With the rule in mind, a proper designer will decide on the appropriate mode of transmitting data to the end-users, either on a web application or a website. Therefore, remembrance of this principle will always help every UX designer present the content of the User experience interface in an effective way that will enhance memorability by the user. More importantly, the law will also help the UX designers establish the amount of content to present to the user at a given time (information consumption by the user).

The designers can always cut off irrelevant information that might bother the user or might not use them. Most UX designers use the chunking strategy for handling such limitations. For instance, a collection of items to be shown to the users can occur in 7 logical chunks that serve as discrete items. The users will have seven items offered in a hideous view, but they can be twenty or so realistically. A good instance of the implementation of Miller’s law is visible on the Airbnb search results page.

Gestalt Laws

Another crucial principle to keep in mind on matters of UX design is the Gestalt law. It is no different from the first principle since it majorly entails chunking-related UX design strategies. Therefore, these laws focus on psychological design approaches with people’s inclination to organize smaller items into larger wholes. The most upstanding ideas behind these laws include connectedness, closure, continuity, similarity, and proximity. However, being more crucial, proximity touches on different dimensions which advance UX design to betterment. Therefore, let us delve into the proximity idea partly and scale down to how it serves UX designers differently. We shall consequently establish what underlies the Gestalt law of proximity. Usually, the law intuitively sticks to the assumption that people consider visual elements grouped as related chiefly because other features situate far from them.

The Gestalt law of proximity helps UX designers in different ways. For instance, this law will help them increase the rate of scanning content on web applications or even websites. Such is possible with visual hierarchy. The presence of white spaces helps enhance the visibility of groupings by the end-user, making the interfaces have optimal layouts that are scannable. An excellent example of the implementation of this law is evident on Apple’s website homepage. It implements significant usage of white spaces and related groupings for the available elements. With such performances, the users will always find it easy to navigate to what they want with optimum engagement as they move quickly through a website interface of the application.

Hick’s Law

Usually, users have to make decisions when navigating through an application or website. However, the website’s design will have a significant impact on the decisions made by the end-user. For this reason, UX designers have Hick’s Law in hand to guide them through psychological approaches to developing a better UX design.

According to the law, time spent making a decision generally relies on the number of options available. An increase in the number of decisional options will mean an increase in the user’s decision time. Employment of this principle during development is prime for UX designers and comes with it the encouragement of quicker actions, increase in conversions, and minimization of user’s cognitive stress. A great example of implementing this principle is Amazon’s “Buy now with 1-Click” button. It helps Amazon users to make quicker decisions by reducing many additional steps, which would have given the user several options to choose from, hence an increase in decision time.

Von Restorff Effect

Another core principle governing better user experience design is the Von Restorff Effect. According to the principle, most users have greater memorability of items sticking out from other objects around them. According to Hedwig von Restorff’s study, a principal German psychiatrist, the presentation of a range of related entities affects the user. The user remembers an item out of the related ones that are different from the rest. Principally, this principle helps UX designers emphasize meaningful content to be taken in by the user. It is also crucial in providing that the user focuses on a specific course of action. Implementation of this psychological principle can take different approaches.

For instance, UX designers can always consider using a button color different from the color scheme of a given web application front or home page. Doing so pulls close the interest of the user and enhances the chances of clicking on the button. Implementation of this rule is commonplace on news websites because most of them require great reading by the user. Check out on renowned news websites such as New York Times. A good instance where you can use this approach lies in featured articles, headlines, and much more.


One of the best things a UX designer can offer the end-user is designing the best user experiences. However, the design of good user experiences doesn’t occur anyhow. The above principles come in handy to ensure that the UX designer exhaustively implements all approaches possible to develop a user experience that the end-users will love. Therefore, psychology has a lot to do with creating great user experiences, regardless of enhancing memorability or visual hierarchy. It is also good to consider that all these are not the only psychological rules that make UX design perfect. The UX designers can also explore other crucial principles and incorporate them into these core psychological rules to generate more extraordinary user experiences. A couple between these psychological and non-psychological principles will always yield the best for the user – the central focus of any development.

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Also check: UX Design Principals

Written by:

Muzammil K

Muzammil K is the Marketing Manager at Aalpha Information Systems, where he leads marketing efforts to drive business growth. With a passion for marketing strategy and a commitment to results, he's dedicated to helping the company succeed in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Muzammil K is the Marketing Manager at Aalpha Information Systems, where he leads marketing efforts to drive business growth. With a passion for marketing strategy and a commitment to results, he's dedicated to helping the company succeed in the ever-changing digital landscape.