There are plenty of factors to consider regarding user experience (UX) design.

Designers need to consider the practicalities of how a product is used to make it as user-friendly as possible. And while there are lots of ways to build effective design systems, they all boil down to one key thing: understanding human psychology.

Why Is Psychology so Important In UX Design?

Psychology is the lifeblood of persuasion in just about every aspect of marketing and product development–we are human, after all. Psychology helps you figure out what people want, how they think, and why they do the things they do. And when UX designers understand these things, they can iterate on them as a means to an end.

Let's look at an example:

Some designers might create a bright and colorful button, thinking it will stand out and be clicked on more. But if the color doesn't match the rest of the product's aesthetic, it can actually create visual noise and make the button less noticeable.

A designer who understands psychology would know that people are more likely to notice and click on a button if it's placed in an area of high visual contrast.

So, while the button's color is important, it's not nearly as important as its placement.

This is just one small example of how designers can use psychology to improve their products. Here are five ways you can use psychology to your advantage for your product's success:

1. Fitts' Law

Fitts' Law is a principle of human-computer interaction that states that the time it takes to move to a target is a function of the width of the target and the distance to it. In other words, the bigger and closer the target, the faster you can move to it.

The law was first proposed by Paul Fitts in 1954, and has since been found to be valid for various tasks, including typing, pointing, and clicking.

While Fitts' law is primarily used to predict movement time, it can also be used to optimize user interfaces and improve task efficiency.

For example, if you know that a user will need to click on a small button frequently, you can make the button bigger or move it closer to their hand to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the task.

Applications of Fitts' Law In UX Design

  • For maximum impact, CTA buttons should be big and close to the user's point of focus.
  • Form fields should be large and easy to fill out, especially on mobile devices where users have smaller screens (and some have poor eyesight).
  • Action elements should be centered with text and images.

2. The Principles of Perceptual Organization

The principles of perceptual organization are some of the most important concepts in UX design. Also known as the Gestalt principles, they state that the human brain organizes information into groups based on certain criteria.

For example, we group things together based on their similarities (e.g., all the red objects) or their proximity to each other (e.g., all the objects in the upper left corner).

By understanding how the brain organizes information, UX designers can create easier and more intuitive designs. If a designer knows that users tend to group elements by similarity, they can deliberately place similar items close to each other to make it easier for users to find what they're looking for.

Applications of the Principles of Perceptual Organization In UX design

  • Arrange elements on a page by similarity to help users find what they're looking for.
  • Use whitespace and borders to separate groups of elements.
  • Place related items close to each other so users can easily find them.
  • Use color and typography to create visual hierarchy and emphasis.
  • Organize content in a way that is easy for users to scan and understand.
  • Use Gestalt principles of grouping to create visual relationships between elements.

3. The Paradox of Choices

Most marketers and salespeople know the importance of giving customers a variety of choices. More choices mean more chances to find a product that's perfect for them, right?


The paradox of choice is the phenomenon whereby people have difficulty making decisions when they are presented with too many options.

In one famous study, shoppers at a grocery store were offered either six or 24 varieties of jam.

The researchers found that while more people tasted the jam when there were 24 varieties, they were less likely to actually purchase any.

Too many choices can lead to decision paralysis, and ultimately cause people to give up and go without the product altogether.

This is why it's so important for designers to carefully consider the number of options they offer users.

Applications of the Paradox of Choices In UX design

  • Offer a limited number of choices to avoid overwhelming users. Instead, opt for a list of "bestsellers" or "recommended items."
  • Make it easy for users to find the information they need and make decisions.
  • Provide clear labels and descriptions for products and services.
  • Use progressive disclosure to present information in manageable chunks.
  • Design for the 80/20 rule: offer a limited number of choices that will satisfy most users.

4. The Law of Prägnanz

The law of prägnanz is a Gestalt principle that states that people will perceive an image as being simpler and more symmetrical than it actually is.

In other words, we tend to see things in the way that makes the most sense to us, even if that means ignoring some of the details.

This principle is often used in logo design, where designers deliberately create simplified versions of complex images.

The idea is that a simplified image will be more memorable and easier to recognize than a detailed one.

Applications of the Law of Prägnanz In UX design

  • Use simple designs that are easy for users to understand. Avoid reinventing the wheel.
  • Avoid using too much information at once.
  • Use whitespace to break up complex designs.
  • Design for recognition, not recall.
  • Use simplified versions of images to create more memorable designs.

5. The Von Restorff Effect

Have you ever noticed that when you walk into a room, your eyes are immediately drawn to the one item that is different from all the others? This phenomenon is known as the von Restorff effect and it occurs when an item stands out from its surroundings.

The effect is named after German psychiatrist Hedwig von Restorff, who first described it in 1933. Von Restorff found that people were more likely to remember an item if it differed significantly from the other items around it.

The effect has been replicated in many experiments since then, and researchers have found that it can be caused by factors such as color, size, and novelty.

One of the most common ways designers do this is by highlighting one pricing option among a list of others, particularly with subscription-based software.

The idea is that the highlighted option will stand out from the rest, and people will be more likely to remember it or select it without much thought.

And the reason it works so well is that cost is one of the key determinants for buying or building, so highlighting one option with the best cost-to-features ratio makes it easy for users to understand what they're getting for their money.

Applications of the Von Restorff Effect In UX design

  • Use contrasting colors to make important elements stand out.
  • Make use of whitespace to draw attention to specific elements.
  • Use different font sizes and weights to highlight important information.
  • Consider the context in which your product will be used. Will certain elements stand out more than others?
  • Use the von Restorff effect to your advantage when designing pricing plans and subscription options.

Final Thoughts on Product Design Psychology

There are hundreds of different psychological principles that can be applied to product design.

These are just a few of the most popular and well-studied ones. As you can see, each one has the potential to improve the user experience in some way.

The key is carefully considering how each principle can be applied to your product. What will work best for your users?

The only way to find out is to iterate, test, and see what works.

Is your design up to par? Check out this blog to learn about the signs your user experience needs work.