5 Principles of UX Design Psychology: How to Predict Your Users’ Behavior | Hacker Noon

 on  on UnsplashPrimacy effect

The primacy effect is based on discovering that an individual will recall items, assets, or information from the start of a list.

For instance, research has shown that when people try to remember something from a long list of words, they are most likely to recollect those terms at the beginning as opposed to further down.

Recency effect

The Recency Effect is a concept that contradicts the Primary effect. Instead of recalling information from earlier in one’s experience, the recency effect theorizes that people remember what they see last with more clarity. This model relies on short-term memory and is prevalent within courtroom settings as well. Studies show jurors are far more likely to recall or agree with arguments put forth by attorneys if those statements occur at the end rather than the beginning of an argumentative statement (or even during it).

How to use it in everyday user experience

The way that an interface is designed can significantly impact the user’s perception and recall, which means it needs to be carefully crafted. As we mentioned earlier, two phenomena should be focused on: primacy effect (the items at the beginning of a list) and recency effect (items at the end). By understanding how these effects work, you can create more decadent designs for your interfaces by focusing on either end of this spectrum — primacy or recency.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Provide accessible and relevant information — provide the relevant information when the user needs it, don’t overcomplicate things.
  • Use easy-to-recognize cues — With the addition of dynamic cues to your user interface design, you’ll make it easy for users to remember information and minimize cognitive strain.
  • Don’t make the user recall all the time — It is believed that the human attention span can only retain five pieces of information at any one time. Don’t waste it!
  • Critical and essential information should be at the beginning and end — The primacy and recency effect influences how we perceive information. It is necessary to highlight the most critical information at the beginning or end of your interface, placing less essential details between those pieces.

#5. Examples from the wild: How companies use these laws in their user experience design

I had the pleasure of chatting with Maya Stern, a senior UX designer from Creative Navy. She has published several articles on the topic and had some great insight into how they use these mental models to influence everything from purchase decisions to design elements in their work.


The team at Creative Navy. Photo from their website.

What do you consider the five principles?

  • Discoverability. It is possible to determine the possible actions and the device’s current state (related concepts: affordances and signifiers).
  • Feedback. There is complete and continuous information about the results of actions and the current state of the product or service. After an effort has been executed, it is easy to determine the new state.
  • Conceptual model. The design projects all the information needed to create a good conceptual model of the system, leading to understanding and a feeling of control. The conceptual model enhances both discoverability and evaluation of results.
  • Affordances and signifiers. The proper affordances exist to make the desired actions possible. Effective use of signifiers ensures discoverability and that the feedback is well communicated and intelligible.
  • Mappings. The relationship between controls and their actions follows the principles of good mapping, enhanced as much as possible through spatial layout and temporal contiguity.

Who do you find most challenging to personify when designing for their experience?

Highly educated users (e.g., researchers, physicians, engineers) are used to poorly designed, outdated interfaces and not very experienced with popular tech products. This type of user often wants everything to stay the same, even if the product they’re currently using is counterintuitive and difficult to learn for new users.

What are some fundamental assumptions that UX designers make during the design process, and why is it important to identify these factors before beginning a project?

  • Stakeholders have described the problems they are trying to solve correctly and fully.
  • The stated problems are accurate and relevant.
  • The target audience of the product/service essentially shares the same challenges.
  • The MVP will be tested and further developed following actual user feedback.

I also talked with her about what we should do more to make sure we design for our users, and she responded right away that we need to do more user research and gather information from users in a structured approach.

Wrapping up and moving forward

The Five Principles of UX Design Psychology can help you predict the behavior of your users. These principles are essential for any user experience designer to know and understand. They will be able to create a more intuitive interface and reach their desired outcomes faster.

For example, when designing an email marketing campaign intended to encourage people to subscribe or buy something with one click (or maybe even without clicking at all), these principles must be incorporated into the design to work effectively.

Have you ever used these guidelines when creating a digital product? What were some strategies you implemented? Leave us a comment below, or send me an email to be featured in my next article!

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