The Psychology Of Web Design


DISCLAIMER: This post was originally written for Credema48 & Logos Gurus as a definitive guide for web designers and branding specialists. Credema48 & Logos Gurus were two of the first few clients I have worked with in web-based research and article writing. They have given me an opportunity to pour in my expertise like clockwork and trusted me well enough to come up with this. And although this article is not confirmed whether distributed by the said organisations, I’d like to share this with you guys, and give proper credits to them.

The advancement of technology has somehow made it important for people to include driving through the information highway in their everyday lives. More often than not, whether to plainly seek information to gain knowledge, be entertained, or do business, a website is readily available to an average human being. Websites of all sorts have made it better, if not perfect for almost everyone. Going on to the internet and visiting a website made it easier for us not to go through the troubles of getting stuck in traffic on our way to the bank, the nearest public library, record bar or even the cinemas. Websites also made it easier and faster to deliver message and documents, thus making them tremendously helpful to everyone. This has then created opportunities for others to make one available for the rest to make life more convenient and better.

Web designers are now the people that we subconsciously count on to make things easier for us when we do business on the internet. They are the people behind making websites attractive and easy to navigate making sure that the amount of information gained and business done would suffice to our expectations. And although most of them have made sure that our expectations are made, there are still those who may have overlooked a few things that make us not visited those sites that they created.



A web designer’s mind is a weighing scale that needs balance. With the rampant need for new designs for a website, one who works on it has got to consider balancing out the number of projects to accomplish against their quality. More often than not, we have observed that some websites created were merely rubbish, perceived by many as unworthy of trust and just a black hole of useless information.

Some web designers often compromise the quality of their creation over its quality. They often do not give themselves ample time to gain knowledge of basic psychological principles and their effect to the kind of experience their visitors have on the websites built. This basic ideology is either perceived to be immaterial and too complicated for them to learn and is taken for granted in the design process. It is a mistaken impression that web designers should take into consideration.

Truth be told, there are not too many ideas referred to basic design psychology, and these are mostly upfront and easy to grasp.

These concepts are also very easy to apply and execute in the process although a few bits may need a little more time to plan and take care of.



Giving ample regard to the fundamentals of human behaviour in the design process can absolutely stir a favourable effect on your end result. Taking the time to consider what web visitors may want and how they want to get it puts you in the position to create a sought after project that will also touch the drives of your target market.

Considering visitor psychology brings us to the likeliness of making our audience happier and they are most likely to end up doing things that the website asks them to do, whether to get in touch with us, buy our products, and even recommend the website to people they know.

This is primarily the raison d’être for considering behavioural science in our designs. We want to make it more conducive for our audience to do what we want them to do when they get in to website.


first-impressions-matterFor our audience to act upon what we want them to do they have to completely trust us and it doesn’t come easily, especially in this age of deceit and scams and other unlikely events transpiring on the internet.

An average person who does things on the internet but is somehow adept on how it works, they may deem anything suspicious when asked for personal information irrespective of its importance or how highly-recommended the website is.

As web designers we often take this for granted as we are accustomed to doing our business online. Our clients may have a different take on this though. The internet can still be a big void where their information goes into, making them a bit too apprehensive.

Having said this, we can use design psychology to build more websites that would gain more audience trust. Creating one that puts the visitor at ease would mean bigger chances of them to sign up for an account, purchase merchandise, or otherwise transact with us. This can be accomplished through a combination of design and language used on its contents.


shocked-woman-looking-at-computerWhen a visitor lands on a page within a website, they expect to see something in particular right away without really minding the kind of site they are on.

They are most likely to veer away immediately from the website and feel that they have come across unfamiliar rubbish that does not make sense to them. What they predominantly expect to see are the website’s purpose and its ease of access.

While tags can aide in defining the website’s purpose, its design can get along very well with the content and underpin that message. For instance, designing an environmental blog requires a skill to put together a look with contemporary colour scheme, with lots of green and natural-looking accents. That would most certainly highlight the fact that the website is all about the environment.

Ahead of the elements that everyone expects to see on every website, there are additional things people would want to find on certain sorts of websites or within industries. If a website is intended to contain blog articles, they expect to see the contents of the blog on the front page or at least a preview of what they are about to read. If it’s an e-shopping website, they would want to see a summary of the products sold. People are most likely to want to see a search function accessible up front and a distinct location in every page made. In majority of instances they also expect to read about the business and a contact information section.



The general elements of the website considered may not be enough to justify what they want to see in it. There are things that they also expect to see objects relating to the kind of website or business you have. Even though this may not be a predominant concern for new or small scale businesses, it is for some others.

Creating a website design also requires us to consider a colour scheme for offline promotional items. These colours should be associated with the website one way or the other regardless of where it is placed and how.

Designers must take heed of the logo as well. Using this on printed marketing materials is just as necessary as including it on the online content. These may be deemed as very basic matter but commonly a subject of oversight among businesses compromising coherence and consistency between their printed and online promotional materials.


page6_1Behavioural and emotional trigger are valuable equipment to persuade the audience to make them do what we intend them to perform when they visit the website.

We want them to participate in anything that is we can offer them in the website and tapping in to their feelings is a powerful weapon. Attraction, guilt, fear, sense of belonging and appeal encompass these triggers.

Knowledge of these and associating them with the design is most commonly done though the content of the site itself, having graphic elements as helpful aides for those. We can use pictures and graphics to back the trigger we use.

The images we use can also either help or confuse the audience. A careful selection of images to embed on the design can make the audience feel at ease. This also gets our messages clearly across. Whilst poorly chosen ones would most likely make them click on the close button right away, needless to say making them feeling suspicious.

There are artsy websites that also use abstract imagery. This can help well but keen and discriminate selection of abstract photographs must be observed. Their meaning is also just as important. Remember that abstract images mean different to different people, or they may just miss it right then and there.


web_designSelection of a colour-scheme may be regarded as one of the most complex part of the design process. However, as it may not be as thoroughly discussed in this article what this article would want us to come across with is that the colours create an impact on how the audience regard the website. Ensure that the colour selection underlines a website’s purpose, message, and the impression desired people to be under.

The combination of colours used on a website together with hues, shades and tones will also affect the message we convey on the website. Red depicts passion and fire that can be regarded as love or anger. Orange, on the other hand, may be seen as a softer hue and associated with energy and warmth. Whilst yellow is seen as a bright and happy colour, people may also be under the impression that it depicts holding back. Using green may also put the audience under the impression of being grounded, growth and renewal while blue is associated with being calm and cool and is also often associated with corporate images.

featured2A careful selection of colours and its scheme will also stir the mindset of the audience. As soon as they see the kind of colours used on the design, once they visit the site, they will either be drawn to stick to it and get a grip or immediately find another website to visit.

Taking heed of a general audience’s reading pattern is just as vital as everything else. Most certainly they are not just likely to view the images and admire the colour scheme used. The contents should be considerably interesting. Generally, people tend to read from the top left scanning information they may be interested in to the bottom right.

Taking this into consideration, designers should work on placing the most important content within this reading behaviour. This is why many sites place the logo in the upper left-hand corner of the website’s header.

Content writers would also be careful not to place any unimportant information within the “Z” reading zone otherwise the visitors would not spend time reading it. They may be compelled to leave the website before they even find what they are looking for.



Colour is regarded as a suitable resource when aptly implemented. Every thinkable place in the world we live in is surrounded by colours that set the mood. Business establishments, parks, nature, wildlife… the colours in these places make us feel.

If we take a look around we will realise that colour selection in physical establishments is just as important as the fact that I want us all to come across with. Food joints use hunger inciting colours on their buildings as corporations and large scale businesses often use a more professional and objective vibe. Colours create an impression that makes us drawn to what is being conveyed.

The selection of a colour scheme may be regarded as one of the most complex part of the design process. The colour selection is just as vital as every other component of the web site as it attracts or repels an audience. We often overlook the fact of a discriminate colour selection that creates a general feel for the website.

shutterstock_112788310Psychologists have theorised and insinuated that colour impression can take responsibility for the majority of the acceptance or rejection of any product or service. Even market researchers objectively made a notion that colour affects purchasing habits. In designing a website, on the other hand, colour plays a vital role in the layout and overall look. It can either be beneficial or detrimental to the turnout that we have in mind when conceptualising a website design.

They are considered a powerful element as they make us feel a certain way so they can and should be utilised to underline the purpose of the website. Our physiological reaction to various perspectives is ahead of our ability to set all other factors apart, e.g. hue, shade, tone, value and chroma.

Although there are no conclusive results from studies about the effects of colour, trends in human colour association has been realised.

Understanding this perspective on colour and colour association gives us the ability to discern our choice for the purpose of targeting a desired audience.

In choosing a colour scheme for a website, we need to consider how each shade and hue may affect the reaction of an audience towards the site.

colourssRed is a good colour to use for accents as it stimulates fiery impulses and tends to make people decide quickly.

Blue, on the other hand, has a rather soothing effect. When combined with warmer colours such as yellow or red, it may set a stronger and higher impact to the audience. It is also perceived as a time-killing tool as we tend to see that time passes by quickly when we are surrounded by it. What sets it back with having a lot of blue around is that it can lead to indecision and melancholy.

Yellow is perceived to be a stimulant to mental activity due to its bright look. It is very effective to grab an audience’s attention. When green is used as a predominant colour on a website may drive people away. This is why not too many designers use green unless it’s a nature-themed website. Orange is vastly taken in welcoming amongst the younger ones.

It is a very fortunate fact that we all live in an immensely colourful world and just as unimaginable how dull it would be without colour. Their harmonious blends are influential marketing tools in the hands of an established designer. A rightful selection and perusal of shades and hues can affect anyone’s mood and arouse required emotions, which helps to convey the initial message in the most understandable way.



Every page on a website site must focus on a particular content. A purpose must be denied on each page whether it’s an “about me” page, a showcase of merchandise or a most recent update. The design needs to highlight the focus of every page, making sure that it is apparent and clear, to let the audience know what is in it for them. This can be done through signs in the navigation or what’s on top of the layout, in addition to the contents.


We can easily tell an amateur site apart from an established one by the amount of information contained in a particular page. Amateur ones hold back too much on the information to be placed there thus sometimes leaving it empty and dull. However, there should also be a saturation point for the amount of data in it. A webpage must contain a “breathing room” for the audience. This may mean inserting a photograph in the middle of an article.

Designers must also ensure that visitors would not come across a website of clutter and chaos. They don’t want to feel claustrophobic of the items in it. Should such case happen, visitors are left under the impression that they don’t know what to begin.


10402595_mFamiliarity with the design psychology is what encompasses the art and science of project creation. Now that we have learned the basic principle of it, we can now come up with techniques for our perusal when we start designing a website.

We can begin with finding out who we want to visit our website. Figuring this out will most likely lead us to attracting more visitors. If we target tech-savvy audience and internet enthusiasts they have a different set of expectations compared to what an environmentalist would want to see. This kind of thinking goes the same for food bloggers versus e-shoppers.

We may also need to conduct an interview among the kind of people we want to visit the website we are looking at creating. People around the neighbourhood, the workplace we are in and even people we have dealt with in the past and those we are acquainted with can be requested to answer a few questions related to the kind of content they may want to see in a website. This gives us moreover an idea of how to create the website according to their input.

A sitemap also ensures that every page in the website sticks to its objective. We can create a sitemap and list everything that we deem necessary to be included in the site.

We can also create a file of the most common components we use to represent our brand. This may consist of a logo, theme, colour scheme, and a consistent typeface. As soon as this is established we can then determine where to inject them in the design.

Contingency designing should also be taken into consideration. If we have enough time to create an alternate design, we are likely to be able to find out which works better. This helps us especially if we are uncertain of what the audience may be more comfortable with on any given page. We can do testing two versions and discern what gets a better feedback.

website_1Every designer should work on learning design psychology extensively and take every piece of information into consideration so they would learn how to incorporate them into the process. They may see that design psychology is solely the biggest factor in how a design may be effective, and how happy the audience and clients will become as a result. It is not as complicated as it seems and may not take too much time hence, the absence of an excuse not to take heed of it and make it work.