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05 January 2022

The Psychology Principles Every Developer Needs to Know

UX is a field that demands a lot of time and effort from developers and designers. When developing a product, the development team should always put the end user of the final product in front of them, this will ultimately lead them towards user satisfaction.

The von Restorff effect (also called the isolation effect) predicts that when there are several similar objects, one that is different from the others is more likely to be remembered!

Does this ring any bells?

This is the main reason why all calls to action (CTAs) are different from the rest of the action buttons on a website or app. When designing your product, you can use this law to draw the user's attention to certain information or places.

Dropbox underlines its preliminary plan by adding a blue tab at the top and highlighting the plan name and button. The other two plans, Standard and Enterprise, used ghost buttons and a lighter shade of blue in the pricing box, further isolating and making the extended plan an anchor point for the user's attention. 

Serial Position Effect

Experiments show that when participants are presented with a list of words, they tend to remember the words at the start and at the end and are more likely to forget the ones in the middle of the list. This is known as the sequential position effect.

What is the role of serial position effect in UX?

Understanding the limitations of users' short-term memory can greatly improve the usability of an application. Most users have relatively short attention spans. By using menus with few items or grouped options, you can help users navigate a website faster or select a product quickly and easily.

Here are some tips to use the sequential positioning effect in your UI design:

  • Placing the most important items at the beginning or end of the list (ie, in the navigation menu), and less important items in the middle.
  • Keep the most relevant information visible so that users don't have to search or use multiple options to find it. For example, rulers in photo editing apps and maps in video games may be more commonly used features, so making them visible will improve the overall UX.

  • Keep the menu as short as possible - ideally no more than three to five items.
  • Place calls to action and important information like sales, social proof, and main focuses at the start and end of the page.

The Adobe Creative Cloud sale is displayed in the blue banner above the navigation menu and at the top of the page the hero image.

Cognitive Load

“ Cognitive load refers to the amount of working memory resources being used. "

In UX design, we can think of cognitive load as the mental processing power required to use a product. If the amount of data to be processed exceeds the user's ability to process it, overall performance suffers. The cognitive load is too high.

Let's have a look at the types of cognitive load explained under Cognitive Load Theory:

1. Intrinsic:

It means the effort related to a particular topic.

2.  Extraneous: 

It shows how information or tasks are presented to the learner.

3. Germane:

It refers to the work involved in creating a permanent data store or schema.

Search Engine

Sample Pages on Search Engines is the best example showing the results of cognitive load and therefore the reasons for Google's success.If you look at the search engine page below, you will find that there is so much on one screen that it is sometimes difficult for users to search for their queries and find answers to them.

But we're lucky that someone solved this problem in the first place, and everyone knows the name, Google.

Hick’s Law

Hick’s law describes that the time it takes an individual to choose depends on the choices available to them. Thus, if the number of options increases, the decision time increases logarithmically.

A great example of Hick's Law applicable to user experience design is lists:


The above principles will help UX Designer use all possible approaches to create a user experience that end users will love. Developing an app or website is great but mainly the design of the website will attract the user, so if a developer wants to be a full package he can take help from these principles for a perfect design.

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What we may not have realized before, and what good UX design strives to achieve, is that in order to create good products, we need to understand people.