Here is a thought you could perhaps entertain – what is actually behind the term ‘user’ in user experience? 

Of course, the obvious and clear question is the person who will use whatever you wish to offer. But perhaps the whole point centres around the user. Namely, people often just follow certain rules and paradigms when creating a good UX design. What they forget is that these rules and paradigms were created based on how the user thinks and feels. This is what we will be talking about today.

User Experience Psychology

In order to maximise the impact and utility of your designs, you should, of course, follow certain rules and standards. But, think about the actual psychology behind all this. What makes people tick, what kind of feeling do you want to create, what reaction are you aiming at. And, perhaps more importantly, what makes people want something. 

Below are certain aspects of human psychology that can be utilised to make the best product possible. Don’t think of these as a cold and clinical psychological analysis, but more like a way to get closer to your potential clients and your user base.

Limited attention spans 

The first thing you should keep in mind when setting up a good UX design is the fact that we, as humans, have a limited amount of attention we can invest. This means that we can only handle so much information before we get annoyed or overwhelmed. Too much stimulation and we can’t really focus on one single task — we would rather do something else. 

Now, we know that you want to implement as many features as possible. We also know that these features are useful and that you worked hard to actually get them ready. But, you need to know that most people simply won’t be able, or simply won’t want to use all this stuff. Of course, if your target audience is comprised of most experts and power users, this won’t be an issue. But, most of the time, people will get overwhelmed with too many options. That’s is why you need to simplify, to minimise distractions, and make things as lean as possible. Good SEO companies, like GWM for example, always try to get people to understand how important SEO things, like load times, can influence our thinking as well.

This can be a website that has too many tabs and options, or an app that has so many features that you simply can’t focus on one single section. Of course, the best solution to this issue is to find a way to integrate both. Perhaps place a power user and simplified option on your app. Or, with proper design, you may just find a way to do both. However, we all know that time is always limited, and that you sometimes need to compromise.


User Experience Psychology
A cluttered interface with painfully clashing colours, poor font choice, and stuttering will drive anybody insane.


Frustration is also an issue. Tied to our limited attention spans, frustration can show up mostly because we either can’t handle all the options and information we are presented with or because these are not presented in a proper manner. A cluttered interface with painfully clashing colours, poor font choice, and stuttering will drive anybody insane.

This can also entail that our thought flow gets interrupted. For instance, focusing on one task, getting engrossed into browsing a website, and then waiting for ages for the next page to load.  Slow load times can and will drive people insane. So do your best to optimise your apps or websites, don’t go crazy with high-resolution images, and remember that not everybody has the best state of the art computer or phone.

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Familiarity (and chaos)

Have you ever noticed that most websites and app designs are eerily similar? There is a reason for this. People need and want familiarity. Familiarity means safety, security, reliability. Furthermore, facing something new means using valuable cognitive power to make order out of chaos, and to properly adapt and understand the new information that is being presented to us. All websites are similar because people have already created a mental model of what a good website should look like.

On the other hand, you need to stand out. In the sea of similar apps, websites, and products, you want to be noticed. Of course, quality is a key factor here, but so is design. You need to add some extra flair, something specific that helps you stand out, while still being familiar and non-threatening. Let’s take a fitness app as an example. It should track your workouts, what exercises you do, your weight and body measurements, as well as perhaps having a couple of examples. You want all that to be properly organised and categorised, with one section being dedicated to your workouts, and another to your measurements. Anything more chaotic than this will putt people off. 

However, what you want to do here is to stand out. So, perhaps you want to focus on creating a beautiful and aesthetic looking interface. Or, you want to add some extra and original features (but not too many, check out our first point). Maybe you can figure out to make the whole UX design of the app more streamlined than any other.

Please don’t look at this section like an attack on originality. But, you must understand that this is how a person’s mind works. Of course, if you truly have an original spin on a certain product, and you believe that you can pull it off, then go ahead. Just understand that the hill you will have to climb will be quite steep.


User experience psychology
Setting up achievements and little rewards will get people accustomed to internal motivation going.


Motivation is key to anything we do. Motivation is essentially why we make the choices we make, why we buy the products we buy. You should find a way to implement this into your design. By making some kind of motivation system into your apps or websites, you will get happy and content users. Let’s stick with our fitness app example. Tracking your workouts and measures is all nice and proper, but adding something extra will get them to stay, or even get a premium version. 

Setting up achievements and little rewards will get people accustomed to internal motivation going. On the other hand, setting up a kind of social media and networking option will help those that need external motivation. If you’re making a website dedicated to helping people quit smoking, you can do something similar. State what improvements on their health can people expect after not smoking for a week, a month, a year. And, again, you can set up an external motivation system by linking people up and sharing their success.


Motivation, avoiding frustration, limited processing power, and the need (and avoidance) of familiarity – these are all important features of our minds. If you can utilise them properly, and think both inside and outside of the box, you can defiantly create a proper user experience that will keep people coming to your company. It’s pretty much a balancing act. You want to have many features, but not overwhelm your customers. You want to keep their attention, without treating them like children. You want to have something familiar, while still being original and unique. 

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