5 Ways To Use Psychology In Your Website Design

The human brain is a kind of biological computer, and you can use its “programming” to optimize your web design. Either you can hit all the right psychological buttons that turns visitors into customers, or you can chase visitors away forever!

You probably know from personal experience that you’re more likely to spend time on some websites, but not on others. What are the factors that keep you browsing a site for longer?

Here are some psychological hacks you can use to upgrade your website, and get more leads rolling in.

1. Use human emotion in your web design

Humans are hard-wired to watch other humans. Seeing what other people are doing helps us to suss out our environment, and take action quickly if we have to.

Neuroscience shows that we’re interested in the direction other people are looking, and their expressions. Someone glancing in a certain direction will make us look in the same direction. We’re barely conscious of these processes, but they’re happening all the time.

People are also very stimulated by pictures of smiling faces. Smiling denotes happiness and relaxation, and looking at other people smiling can subconsciously make us happy and relaxed as well. It’s catching!

This is pleasantly convenient for web designers. You can use smiling images on your site to make your visitors happy and relaxed – so they’ll trust you.

You can also focus your visitors’ attention wherever you want it to go, with clever use of images. For example, an image of someone looking towards your CTA button will almost certainly direct the gaze of visitors, and focus their attention on it.

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web design psych hacks

2. Your web design should offer limited choices

Limiting user choices might sound like a BAD thing for your site, but it really isn’t. Think about your website as a restaurant menu. If it’s a huge menu with pages and pages of starters, mains and desserts will be intimidating to visitors, and they’ll be forced to take forever to read through it.

Ain’t no-one got time for that - especially when they’re hungry. They might decide to cut their visit short, just get some drinks, and stop at Steers before they head out.

Humans are pretty good at deciding what to do, and deciding very quickly - we’re wired that way for survival. If too much decision-making is needed just for something fairly simple, we might just decide to leave the whole thing alone.

Your web design doesn’t need a huge bunch of pages, or 10 different variations on each thing you’re trying to sell. You want to help people feel comfortable – by limiting their choices and letting them decide quickly!

Make sure that areas where you give your visitors options, like your services and pricing, or your checkout page, have a few clear choices that can be understood in seconds. Most importantly - have a clear, highly visible and easily doable call to action (CTA), like “Get a Quote” or “Shop Now” or “Call Us Today”.

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3. Your web design should create a sense of urgency

Humans all have chronic FOMO – it’s not a bug, it’s a feature! We might as well just rename our species “Fomo Sapiens”.

We feel compelled to take decisive action in urgent situations, and we’re usually pretty good at it. Our ancestors had to grab that juicy squirrel before it ran away and they didn’t get to eat it!

Your website should occasionally feature a juicy but elusive squirrel – or rather, a discount or a freebie that will be available for a limited time only. Potential customers are more likely to take action right away if they think something juicy is going to disappear soon!

web design fomo

4. Keep your web design simple and distraction free

Humans are very visual, but our brains don’t like visual chaos. Chaos takes time and effort and energy to unscramble. Our brains like simplicity, clarity and organization – even if you don’t always feel like a very organized person.

If your web design is easy to understand and intuitive to navigate, visitors are more likely to want to stick around, see what you’ve got, and convert to a lead.

Website conversion occurs when a visitor to your site completes a desired action, such as signing up for newsletter, social media share, filling out a form or making a purchase. They then become a lead!

Related: Learn How You Can Benefit From Lead Generation.

Visually simple web design has two benefits. Firstly, it stops visitors jumping away from the site in a panic because they feel bamboozled by BS. Secondly, a distraction-free website design ensures that your visitors’ attention is directed exactly where you want it to go.

5. Use the F-word in your web design

Just kidding!

Research shows that our eyes typically scan any page - printed or web - in an F-pattern. A user will read the top line of any page on your website, then scan across anything that looks interesting in a second, shorter horizontal movement. Then they scan down the left border in a more-or-less vertical movement.

If you put your important website design elements in an F-shape - along the top and left border of the site – you’ll maximize your chances of capturing and keeping visitors’ attention.

If you remove anything that blocks the basic F-shape of your site, you’re removing psychological “friction”. Your visitor is more likely to stick around and convert.   

f pattern web design

Your web design company should use psychology to understand and leverage human emotions on your website. It’s generally better to be subtle about how you apply psychological principles to your website design - but it all depends on your brand. Whatever hacks work to bring in conversions are the right hacks for you!

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We've been in the website design game since 2003 – back when the Internet was still a bratty kid. Our website design company is ever-expanding, and the web developers behind it have a wide range of qualifications and experience in website design, graphic design, programming, copywriting, web content, SEO and online sales / marketing. Just as important as our skills – we are passionate about what we do, take pride in our work, and have a lot of fun doing it. We are more than just web designers, we help your business grow!

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