Daily UX Crash Course — User Psychology: 30 of 31

There are are two major aspects of UX design that can give you mysterious results: information architecture and user psychology. It is possible for one to look like the other, so today we will learn about:

Structure vs. Choice


(Just starting the User Psych Crash Course? Start here.)


We have already learned a lot about the ways you can present information so more people choose certain options than they normally would.

But what if you see a lot of people choosing an option that you didn’t want them to choose?

There are probably a million examples of this. However, my goal in this lesson is not to give you a library of scenarios — just to give you a taste of the way your navigation or layout might be a sheep in psychology’s clothing.


Order vs. Appeal

We have learned about how to bias your content so that certain options look more attractive than others. 

If users don’t choose those options it is possible you did it wrong. Or you might just have them in the wrong order.

Items on the left of a horizontal list or at the top of a vertical list get more clicks, because they are the first things people see.

Anchoring only works when the anchor is the first option. If you have something else in the first position, it might be getting clicks just because users see it first.

I have seen people build strategies on the assumption that Option #1 is what users like most, when in reality it is just what users see first.


Content Attention vs. Surface Attention

We have learned how to grab the user’s attention and how to minimize competing messages. 

So what if everybody loves your site, but nobody reads it?

A common trend lately is websites with amazing visual effects and animations as you scroll. The problem is: sometimes, it is more interesting to scroll up and down than to stop and read.

That's surface attention. We want content attention.

Animations and cool effects should be used as elements of delight, not the whole design. Remember that motion beats everything, attention-wise. That means people will watch whatever is moving and ignore whatever isn’t.

Ever tried to read moving text? Probably not, because you were too busy watching it.

Motion and parallax effects should draw attention to things the user should do. Not the pure awesomeness of the designer’s imagination.


Hierarchy vs. Motivation

We have learned that user psychology is about motivating users to do important actions. Like registering, buying, subscribing, upgrading, etc. 

If you’re not getting much traffic to your conversion pages, it could be because people don’t want to register. Or, it could be because the users can’t get there.

If a user clicks down into a page that doesn’t have a Register button on it, they will not go backwards when they become motivated to register.

They just won’t find the button.

Very few users will ever mention it, because it’s not a visual problem. It’s a business problem.


Tomorrow, in our final lesson, we will learn what to do when you have to choose between one purely subjective thing, and another: Sometimes A/B Testing is The Only Way To Know.