Four rules for mastering UX psychology

Four rules for mastering UX psychology

Designing for user experience (UX) may seem a straightforward concept but when you start to explore the psychology behind user design things quickly become more complex.

For a start, users have different preferences, display different behaviours and embody various personality traits. Even asking users why they like one design or app over another might not always make the issue any clearer because they often find it hard to articulate the reasons behind their preferences.

Nevertheless, you can increase the odds of producing a successful UX design. This article highlights four fundamental rules you should follow to help you master the psychology of user experience:

Understand your audience

Designing for user experience has to start with the user at the centre of the process. That may seem an obvious statement but it is easy to get side-tracked by the latest design trends or obsessed with the newest time-saving tools.

These things are important but not as critical as meeting your users' needs. Who are your end users? Are they children, busy parents, business executives, pensioners, people living with disabilities or another type of audience? What are their cultural norms and expectations? What design features appeal most to them?

For example, a child is likely to react positively to a design which is bold, colourful and dynamic whereas clarity and ease of use will be important to older users.

Focus on context

Designers also need to understand that users do not exist in a vacuum. For example, their UX needs will vary depending on whether they are at work or on holiday, on the go or sitting at a desk in the comfort of their own homes.

Sometimes you will need to sacrifice visuals for speed. In other contexts you might have more freedom to create an amazing aesthetic.

The take-home message here is that you are moving on from thinking about who is using the website, app, brochure, etc. and focusing on what the user is doing at the time they access it.

Hint: every user will be looking to solve a problem of some kind. Finding out what that problem is will enable you to work on providing the ideal solution.

Be fluent in technology and the design process

Once you are clear about who you are designing for and what problem you are solving, the practical work can begin. It is here when your fluency with the technical aspects of the design process will come into their own.

However, even the most creative and technologically adept professionals will adhere to a workflow process to ensure they stay connected with their user's needs at all times.

This process will involve wireframes as visual maps of the app or web interface and prototypes for more detailed functional models. The work in progress will be tested and refined until all aspects of the brief are fulfilled.

Balancing the creative and functional

The fourth rule encompasses the entire UX design process and should be regularly referred to. Unlike the fine or graphic arts, the final piece is more than a piece of artwork.

At all stages, the creative juices must be tempered by an analytical mindset which asks the same questions: Will this appeal to the user? Will this help the user to solve their problem? Will this actually work when incorporated with the rest of the design?

Designing for user experience is not as simple as it might sound. However, by keeping the target audience at the forefront of your mind, understanding the problems they are trying to solve, following a strategic workflow and constantly striving to balance the aesthetic with the functional you will become a master of the psychology of UX.

Topic: User experience

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