Design is a powerful tool.
It influences human behaviour and shapes the way that we interact with products and services.

However, the psychology of design is often overlooked in favour of the latest visual trends.

As a result, products may be aesthetically pleasing but can difficult to use. This can frustrate users and fail to achieve business goals.

We combine visual creativity and data-insights in our design work. Designers and strategists work in tandem to understand the why before building out the how.

1. Focus on people

Prioritise understanding your users and keep their needs in mind as you design. Take time to deep-dive into your target audience demographic and identify the potential obstacles they may encounter when using your product.

The age range of your target audience will often influence their choices. Their diverse cognitive abilities and motivations should influence your design solution.

Building out research informed personas is a great way to start.

2. Minimise ‘cognitive load’

A good user experience relies on a well-defined visual hierarchy.

Users tend to gravitate towards uncomplicated interface designs that are both easy to navigate and to understand.

As a designer, it’s important to consider the increasing amount cognitive load needed to use varying digital products. As humans we hold a relatively small amount of information at any one time. Good design will strive to minimise the effort required by users to understand a product. Check out Cognitive Load Theory by John Sweller if you’re interested in this.

Avoid clutter and limit design elements, enabling users to focus on the most important information. Overwhelming the user with too many choices makes it challenging to determine what action to take.

An excellent example of a product with low cognitive load is the wellness app, Headspace.

The app’s minimalist design, clean graphics, and limited colour palette provide a soothing experience. Additionally, the content is structured into small, easily digestible sections which make it easy to understand. They also have a nice design system open to everyone.

3. Design for inclusivity

Designing products with accessibility in mind is no longer just a “nice-to-have”. It’s a necessity for businesses looking to capture a larger market share.

Prioritising accessibility in your product design not only demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity,  it also creates a better user experience for everyone. 

It can help expand your market reach and ultimately reflects positively on your brand.

Designers should prioritize inclusive design principles, such as personalization options and accessibility for users with disabilities

In our work with Refuge we made numerous considerations for accessibility ensuring that the service was accessible to everyone.

These considerations included a tabbing system for users with motor impairments, visual contrast beyond the required standard, and site translation in multiple languages, including an Urdu version.


4. Utilise social proof

Social proof is a powerful psychological phenomenon.

It can influence people to adopt a certain behaviour if they see others doing it. The idea is that if other people are doing it, it must be the right thing to do. 

Incorporating social proof into your design can significantly increase conversions, build trust and create a sense of credibility.

One effective way to use social proof in your design is by displaying customer reviews, testimonials, or case studies.

By showcasing positive feedback from existing customers, you can provide prospective customers with reassurance that your product or service is worth their investment.

When working with NRG on the launch of their new brand, Everything Energy, we incorporated customer reviews and featured provider logos on the website to instil trust and credibility.

This  helped to increase customer engagement and influenced potential customers to sign up for the service.

5. Test for the real world

One of the fundamental flaws in the design process is assuming that a design is perfect without any real-world feedback.

We actively encourage our clients to engage prospective users through beta testing.

By employing an iterative an approach, design teams can test assumptions and ensure that design concepts will work in the real world. Beta testing can also kick-start the creation of a loyal and engaged fan base before your product has even launched.

Early users feel invested in the product and are more likely to become advocates for your brand.

When working with the Digital Museum of Learning, we created a functional prototype for users to test.

Careful consideration was taken to ensure that each testing session was balanced between users intuitively navigating the design and spending time discussing their observations and opinions.

This resulted in invaluable feedback which validated our initial insights into an improved design.

“The psychology of design plays a critical role in shaping user behaviour. Users tend to follow the path of least resistance, so keep it simple and succinct.”

— Victor Woode, Creative Director, Athlon

Interested in integrating behavioural psychology into your user experience design? Schedule a 30-minute workshop with our strategy team to discuss Human-Centred Design.

Contact us


Kate Cargill

Consultant, Brand Experience

With 15 years of B2C brand and product experience and a MSc in Psychology, Kate helps companies predict, influence and navigate consumer behaviour.

Victor Woode

Creative Director

Victor graduated with a 1st Class honours degree in Graphic Design when the internet was in its infancy. Since then he’s been at the forefront of award winning digital products and branding.

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