Chroma Experience


Don't make me think!

Human perception in product design

When we think about user experience, people are always at the center of our considerations. We conduct interviews, do user testing, and consider studies and research when developing digital products. Long before there were terms like user experience or user-centered design, as a designer I was studying the psychology of perception. These findings are simply part of the basic knowledge of every designer. In this article, I would like to take a closer look at how we can use this knowledge to increase user satisfaction in digital products.

Obere Gesichtspartie einer Frau mit leicht nach oben gerichtetem Blick bzw. Wahrnehmung von etwas

I don't want to think!

When I look at my apps on my phone, or even the apps I work with, I often find that I can't find the functions or information I'm looking for. This can be due to a variety of reasons, but one elementary aspect of our brains is often ignored in the design of these products: short-term memory.

If we ask users, we will hear the following desire: We want the widest possible range of options and information. In Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz describes how humans can make decisions more easily when they have fewer options to choose from. So this insight conflicts with user desires. So what should we do?

George Miller found back in 1956 that humans can only remember about seven items at a time. We now know that the quantity of these elements also depends on the context. But as a rough guide, we can still use his findings. That means, we should limit ourselves to the absolutely most important elements, which are just necessary for the completion of the current task. This was also confirmed as early as 1952 by the psychologist William Edmund Hick with the Hick-Hyman Law.

Finally consider my perception!

In psychology, design theory is not taken very seriously. In visual design, however, it can help us to structure information better and make it easier to grasp. Knowledge of human visual perception can therefore help us to design products more intuitively and to present complex content in a more comprehensible way. There are a few basic laws that can help us to do this:

**Proximity: We perceive elements that are next to each other as belonging together.
similarity: we attribute similar properties to elements with the same shape or color
Closeness: our brain recognizes patterns very quickly to judge surfaces
Symmetry: wherever possible the brain recognizes symmetry
Common region: we perceive contents in a box as belonging together

I do not decide rationally!

We must not assume that decisions are made by users in a rational manner. Rather, we try to get to our goal in the fastest way possible. The link or image that looks most like the solution to our problem is clicked. In technical jargon, this phenomenon is called "satisficing", a made-up word that is composed of satisfying and suffice. In other words, the fact that we are satisfied with the first thing that comes along. Those who take this phenomenon into account in the design of menus and the structuring of content can specifically support the user in intuitively reaching his goal.

If looks could kill!

Too often I find that the hierarchy in content and navigation elements does not match my natural perception. There menus are arranged incorrectly or important content is placed at the end of the page. Yet there are simple rules you can follow when thinking about how to design your digital product:

Gutenberg diagram

All people who read from left to right start their perception at the top left.So here is the point of highest attention.At the bottom right is the end zone.This is also an important point to place important content (e.g. the call-to-action).Elements that are placed at the top right or bottom left have a higher probability of being overlooked.This can be remedied with a particularly eye-catching design (e.g. color, size). This perception oriented to the classical reading direction in the form of a Z is also called the Z-pattern.## F-pattern

With eye-tracking studies, the renowned UX expert Jakob Nielsen has found that the assumptions of the Z-pattern in the perception of surfaces do not always apply.Especially on pages with a lot of text, the headline and the first words are read first, then the first subheading and further down a few more individual words. If you visualize this pattern you get an F, which is how the pattern got its name. You know this way of reading from yourself? Then I can reassure you, because then you do it like most people.

The first impression counts!

You wear elegant clothes, you have a well-groomed appearance, you are polite and charming? Then you must be perfect in your field, a good mother or a loving husband.It often happens that we transfer the outward appearance to qualities that we don't even know yet.This is the so-called halo effect.This describes the phenomenon that certain characteristics outshine others.This effect occurs also when looking at our digital products.If we do not like the interface or if the first interactions are not crowned with success, we evaluate the product negatively, even though we have not yet gained an overall view. Future points of contact with the product can thus be negatively biased. It is then almost impossible to correct this first impression during the usage process.Therefore, the first impression is crucial and should be given special consideration in the design.

Let's make it better

There are countless insights from psychology and research that can help us design better products.This was just a small insight.Especially for designers of digital interfaces, who have to deal with highly complex contexts and a multitude of information, knowledge about human perception can lead to better design decisions.These days, it's not enough to trust that you have a good intuition or make correct assumptions.With increasing complexity, stronger pressure from competing products and also the rising demands of a digitally affine society, the demands on designers are increasing.This makes it all the more important for companies to develop a sensitivity for good usability and user experience and to trust experts in this field.This is how a good product can become a great one that people can use intuitively and with enthusiasm.