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The Psychology of UX – Decode the ‘X’

We hear a lot about UX, DX, CX, and PX … It’s all about the ‘X’, which stands for ‘Experience’. User experience drives web and app behavior. The bigger question is: How can we address user experience variables and factor in the underlying rules of the psychology of UX to driving user behavior toward predicted outcomes? UX developers are focused on creating viewer interest and an engaging digital experience – resulting in improved user interactions and conversions.

Design Stats Speak

The Role Of Human Emotions

Human reflexes instinctively connect vision with emotion. This happens in milliseconds, especially with impulse-based B2C eCommerce. Evidence-based information, reasoning, and evaluation are the next step for collective or larger decisions. Social identity, community, and convenience aspects kick in to make the final interaction decision.

Role of Human Emotions

Human experience resides subconsciously in the reptilian brain.

Reference: DrawingTutorials101

A Fun-Fact:

“Gamification” evolved out of the synergy between online interaction and the psychologically addictive journey to ‘win’ or ‘achieve an end goal’.

UX Goals

User experience is essential for driving conversions. Design psychology is critical for mobile app designers, web designers, and graphic designers who create the marketing assets tap into to achieve the following goals:

  1. Create simplicity
  2. Designing for the user
  3. Focus on engagement

We’ll explore some psychological principles that can be used to achieve these goals for browsers and apps.

  1. Create simplicity

    Psychological Principles:

    • Mental models – Although our brains can process complex information, design shouldn’t make the user ‘think too hard’. Focusing on the tried and true processes or standard UI/UX approaches helps engagement and conversions. Incorporate widely recognized icons for certain functions – don’t get overly clever with your design. Keep the number of options limited to empower decision-making – limit distractions. Cognitive overload can lead to confusion and abandoned conversions. For e-commerce sites and apps – always include search filters to deliver what your users are looking for.Here are examples of universal icons:
      Universal Icons

      Reference: Icon Library

    • Avoid content blindness – The brain cannot register quick minuscule changes – cues are missed and go unseen. The design and content need to be processed by the brain. If you’re using motion as a way to transition between components – focus on the user – don’t add it for the sake of something cool. Don’t use motion to highlight a change in state. From an ADA perspective – flashy or jarring motion is not compliant with current standards. In the example below, the team is highlighted and motion indicates changes in the images of people in the mosaic:
      Cross Link Capital

      Reference: Crosslink Capital website – Created by Position2

    • Dual Coding Theory – Memory has two systems (a) verbal and (b) non-verbal. The interplay of both is important to engrain into the users’ memory for retention and brand recall. Some of the best examples of this theory are intuitive, non-verbal brand recognition:
      Dual Coding Theory

      Reference: App Logos Another example of how the visuals capture the emotion of the moment to convey care and curriculum:

      New Story Schools

      Reference: New Story Schools, a special education school website developed by Position2

      The use of images to convey content (or emotion) is critically important. The average attention span has gone down significantly over the last 20 years. People will often glance through a page – imagery that tells a story is critical to grab the attention of the user. When you use images to support content – it’s equally important to use ALT text to describe that imagery that people with a vision disability may not get as they access digital media.


      Below, is an example of a visual that conveyed a humorous message.

      Creative Lenovo Logo

      Reference: Position2 developed this creative for Lenovo

  2. Make a good first impression

    Psychological Principles used:

    • Gestalt Theory – Visceral Reactions to visual
      design elements that make it more appealing (ref diagram).

      Gestalt Theory


    • Occam’s Razor – Simplest solutions keep users razor-focused, and have the highest engagement/conversion. The classic example of the simplicity is Occam’s Razor is the Google screen – it’s clean – focusing the user to interact in only one way (i.e. enter your search topic):
      Occams Razor

      Reference: Google

    • Hick’s Law – Too many options can delay a decision. Minimize the choices to reduce friction and retain users with only relevant information and UI elements.A user was recently shopping for reading glasses and chose one pair after researching options. They were offered a “You might also like” list of glasses with potential options similar to what the user had chosen. In this case, the ‘you might also like’ didn’t add value – it distracted the user and resulted in no purchase.
      Hicks Law

      Reference: Foster Grant website

  3. Increase Engagement

    The UX psychological principles that work to achieve this are:

      • Variable Ratio Schedule – To encourage adoption, vary the number of times a person displays a certain behavior (not every time), then phase out the reward once that behavior is established.


    • Psychological Resource Model – Some people are more prone to repetitive behaviors related to their purchasing profile. For example, Amazon saves users’ searches and based on their repeat searches serves them ‘similar types’ of products they have repeatedly purchased based on their history.
      Psychological Resource Model

      Reference: Amazon

    • Emotional Contagion – Humans are subconsciously drawn into personal stories and take on the emotions and behaviors of other people, thereby becoming a part of the emotional and social tapestry.In the example below: Salesforce has compiled a large amount of personal stories of trailblazers in their ecosystem. The page highlights their personal journey to success. These stories are inspiring “Every Trailblazer has blazed their own trail through Salesforce”. This visual is interactive and humanizes the experience, making it more engaging.
      Emotional Contagion

      Reference: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/trailblazers

Position2 has dozens of successful websites and creative assets that combine these psychological aspects, best practices, and the science of design. In addition, we combine information architecture, heuristic analysis, user flow, design strategy, and deep research on industry practices to bring engaging digital experiences to life.

 Position2 Creative

Reference: Position2 creative

Repetition and habit-forming cues can result in intuitive and predictive interactions. Simplicity with the ease-of-use principle of least effort to drive conversions. All this sounds like a lot but once you follow the basic human psychological principles, it’s a breeze.


Mobile app designers, web designers, UX designers, and graphic designers have to understand and apply the principles of UX design psychology to achieve their goals to drive engagement. ‘X’ is not an unknown. Decode X easily.

Connect with us, and we can provide the best digital marketing experience for your target audience.

Sangeeta Gupte

March 30, 2023

By Sangeeta Gupte