How to Shape User Minds: Unleash Web Design Psychology!

Whilst your potential customers’ are browsing the web, you as a company, only have a small window of time to capture a user’s attention. The best websites cleverly persuade users to explore and ultimately purchase products. These websites are complex to design but are generally simple to navigate around. Each element around the website must be purposely placed and work closely and well together.

This blog talks about the using of web design psychology as well as elements like layout, spacing, colours, shapes and typography, to prompt the desired outcome from users.

The importance of user research when designing websites!

When it comes to your website’s design and usability, whilst you want your own bespoke specification, it really needs to be based on customer research, web psychology principles and data-driven insights to determine the design and not your own personal opinion.

Since your website visitors matter, the design needs to be based around which aspects of the website pages appeal to them? Is any of the functionality confusing? Does your design persuade  them enough to keep them interested?

If you want to design a truly customer focused user experience, you will need to compile direct feedback and data and then get this analysed accordingly.

The user research can be broken into two different categories:

  1. Qualitative
  2. Quantitative

Qualitative user research looks at consumer’ opinions and motivations by conducting interviews and open-ended surveys.

Quantitative user research gives you measurable data using sources like polls, questionnaires and multiple-choice surveys.

Qualitative tells you the why and Quantitative research tells you the what. Both forms of research will ultimately help with your websites’ design and results.

Below are a few psychology theories that can prompt action on your website:


Hick’s Law:

Have you ever wondered why you struggle to choose what you want to eat from a huge menu? Hick’s Law states that too many options will confuse your decision-making process. The same goes for the design of your site. The law describes the time it takes for someone to make a selection based on the number of options that they have available to them.

By considering this theory, the simplest option is to put all of your links on the search results page to eliminate choice. This allows customers to quickly pinpoint the section they want to browse and narrow down further by sizing, occasion, and price. If you don’t simplify their decision-making, you could lead users to the “Paradox of Choice”. This is where they take too long to decide, may not choose anything at all and ultimately leave unsatisfied. By simplifying the buying process, users don’t have to waste time clicking into each product page to make a purchase.

Fitts’ Law

Psychologist Paul Fitts understood that human error wasn’t always down to personal mistakes. It could be a result of poor design. The law states that both the size of a target object and its distance from the starting point impacts user engagement.

It is why Spotify makes the “Play” button far more prominent than any other on the screen.

Fitts’ Law doesn’t mean making a button big enough to fill the screen. It’s about identifying your most popular buttons and making them easier to tap or click. So make your call to actions on your website bigger and more prominent on your website to help your users purchasing decisions easier.

Gestalt design laws and principles

Gestalt psychology was discovered following a series of tests, that the mind “informs” what the eye sees. In Lamond’s Terms, humans view separate objects as a whole before focusing on their smaller parts. Gestalt psychology has a number of laws and principles that apply to web design. These are symmetry, continuation, proximity, similarity, and closure. Using this principle, it is possible to create a design that engages better with its users and makes the website feel visually more appealing and coherent.

Visual hierarchy

Which part of a web page do you tend to read first?

Visual hierarchy is the order in which we view and process visual information. It also originates from the Gestalt theory of wanting to bring order to chaos. So as part of the design stage, try to draw attention to particular elements on your site first such as calls to action, forms, and size could be used for this. You could also use contrast or animation for the same effect. In web design, it is all about proportions. Web pages that follow this principle are more appealing to the eye.



Web design isn’t an exact science, but there are many theories behind it.

None of the above theories use just one principle of psychology for the affective designing of websites. Each can overlap several of these theories to produce an outstandingly designed website.

So whether you have a web development team or if it is just you on your own, then the strategy is still the same. If you think you have got something that works, test it, optimise it, then test it again.

Repeat this process regularly and you will keep up with the subconscious needs of your users.


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