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5 Psychology-Backed Design Tips to Make Your Website More Effective

The message you put together for your brand is important, but it’s not limited just to the words you choose. In fact, the way you present that message is equally, if not more important. Even the most subtle factors of your web design like color scheme and font can impact how visitors view your brand.

So, does that mean your website has to be elegant or breathtaking? Not necessarily. Even the most beautifully designed website will experience a high bounce rate if it doesn’t function well. And if visitors aren’t staying on your site that means you’re losing the opportunity to convert them.

What you need is a website that loads fast and is easy to navigate. But beyond this there are also a few principles of psychology that can help improve your website’s usability and subsequently increase the amount of engagement you get from visitors.

Let’s take a closer look at five psychology-backed design tips that you can apply to make your website more effective.

1. Use colors and fonts that evoke emotion.

Much research has been done on how different colors can influence human emotion. For instance, bright red can elicit feelings of energy and boldness while certain shades of blue can induce feelings of serenity.

Psychologist Robert Plutchik summed it up well in his colorful “Wheel of Emotions”:

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Because colors stir up emotion, they can increase brand recognition by up to 80% and play a significant role in conversion rate.

One important thing to keep in mind, however, is that there is no single universal color that will automatically convert better across all of your marketing campaigns. The gender, shopping habits and culture of your shoppers may impact their color preferences.

The goal is to choose a color palette the matches your brand personality, accentuates your values and that will resonate with your target audience. From there, you may need to do some good old fashioned A/B testing to figure out what works and where you might need to make some tweaks.

In addition to the color scheme, the fonts you use on your website also play a role in making an impression on your visitors. Fonts that are clearly legible, for instance, make your content more readable. Fonts can also induce certain moods that people will then associate with your brand. Therefore, you want to choose fonts that evoke the right kind of emotions within your target audience.

Here’s a handy infographic that demonstrates the psychology of fonts:

Psychology Behind Type
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The right fonts can also serve as a way to differentiate your website from others. Check out this font directory from Google to get some ideas flowing and see what styles match your brand best. You can also refer to these expert tips if you need help choosing a font.

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2. Use the Gestalt principle of symmetry.

Most people dislike disorder. Therefore, conveying information in an asymmetrical and orderly manner can help your audience to more quickly understand and comprehend. Conversely, when there is a sense of imbalance in the composition of your website, it may affect the user’s ability to concentrate.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use asymmetry, however. In fact, you can and should leverage this to draw attention to certain elements of your website that you want to stand out, such as your calls to action.

Check out this resource for more information on how to use Gestalt’s principles in the design of your website.

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3. Trigger a visceral reaction.

What is a visceral reaction? Well, it’s what happens when something triggers an automatic response from our central nervous system. It’s like an instinctual feeling.

The fact is, we all react to certain things on a subconscious level. And the way we are affected subconsciously is pretty consistent regardless of our gender or demographic.

When you trigger a visceral reaction with your website, you make people instinctually feel so good about it that they want to experience it again. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to use compelling imagery. Simply put, beautiful pictures make people happy.

Choosing the right images for your site can help you create enjoyable and, more importantly, memorable experiences for your visitors.

4. Utilize “Hick’s Law” in your design.

Psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman conducted a series of experiments to assess human capacity of cognitive information. What they discovered was that increasing the number of choices subsequently increases the amount of time it takes to make a decision.

You may already be familiar with the application of this law in what’s widely referred to as the “jam study.” In this study it was discovered that when the number of choices of jam flavors at a store was decreased by 18, sales of jam skyrocketed from 3% to 30%.

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From a web design perspective, cutting down the number of options that you provide to your visitors to the bare minimum – aka your most compelling and relevant offers – can dramatically improve conversion.

For best results, focus on the following key elements:

  • Keep the number of form fields to a minimum
  • Use only the social share buttons for networks where your audience is most active
  • Each landing page should have only one goal (i.e. one CTA)
  • Include only the most relevant items in your navigation bar
  • Avoid having too many clickable items on your home page

5. Put your users first and focus on making personal connections.

The ultimate goal of your website design should be connecting with your audience on an emotional level. If you’re unable to quickly and effectively communicate an offer that is relevant to a user the moment he or she arrives on your site, you’re not getting the job done.

Here are a couple of tips for improving user engagement:

Gather qualitative insights through user interviews and experience tests.

Data from things like Google Analytics is great, but it doesn’t dig deep enough. It only tells you what your visitors are doing on you site and how, but it doesn’t delve into the why. Conducting tests to analyze user behavior and evaluate experience can provide much more valuable insight on specific elements of your website.

Leverage the power of storytelling.

Again, the goal is to evoke some type of emotional response from your target audience, and storytelling is perhaps the most powerful and effective way to achieve this. But storytelling isn’t just about words on a page. The design of your website can also tell a story. In fact, your visual story is equally as important as your written one. The question is, is your design’s story compelling and memorable enough?


Your website is more than just a placeholder for your business online. In order for it to be truly effective, it must reinforce your brand’s personality and bolster the overarching message that you’re trying to convey to your audience.

The five tips listed above are backed by principles that are rooted in psychology and have been proven to be highly effective in increasing user engagement. Give them a try today and see if your results improve.

If you still have questions about these principles or any other element of effective web design, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can help you design a website for your business that delivers a positive first impression and appeals to your visitors on a psychological level to keep them on the site longer and increase the probability of conversion.

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