How psychology design products that win customers
Part one of my three-part series of UX at Duolingo, Webflow, ADPList, Notion and more.
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What if psychology can amplify the power of your design to attract users and enterprises?
Design psychology is often overlooked in making a product successful. Design psychology is the study of understanding user behavior by blending the principles of design and psychology. By considering the psychology of design, businesses can develop an effective strategy for converting and retaining this blog, we will discuss how design psychology can lead to increased conversion rates.
Thanks to our (highly-curated) sponsor: Webflow!
We only include sponsors when we’ve received a positive recommendation from the ADPList community or used the product or service ourselves.
This series is a new playbook—for designers looking to grow their impact on businesses and products —and brings me one step closer to my goal of giving every practitioner the playbook to be successful at work. Whether you’re a Designer or Product Manager and Engineer, you’ll find inspiration, and frameworks that will help you with what you’re building right now. Here’s what is in store:
Part 1: How psychology design products that win customers ← This post
Part 2: Powerful psychology to design products
Part 3: How to design habit-forming products
For parts one and two, we talk about principles of design psychology; companies can create user experiences that will lead to more conversions and higher engagement. These will be actionable tips and checklists for you to design your products — and insights that you can use today with reference from Growth.Design!
Every time users interact with your product, they:
🙈 Filter the information
🔮 Seek the meaning of it
⏰ Act within a given time
💾 Store bits of the interaction in their memories
So to improve your user experience, you need to understand the biases & heuristics affecting those four decision-cycle steps.
Below is a list of cognitive biases and design principles (with examples and tips) for each category. Let’s dive right in.
1. Information - UX that is important
Users filter out information that they receive, even when it could be important.
1.1 Hick's Law
More options leads to harder decisions.
Hicks Law definition: Hick's Law predicts that the time and the effort it takes to make a decision, increases with the number of options. The more choices, the more time users take to make their decisions.
Hick’s Law example
✔️ Hick’s Law checklist
Find an area where you have a lot of options or a lot of repetitions.
Try to either reduce the number of options or find ways to hide items. (Do they all need to be displayed at once? #progressive disclosure)
If you can't minimize the options, try to put them in an easily skimmable order and make sure the items are familiar; otherwise, it won't work
1.2 Progressive disclosure
Users are less overwhelmed if they're exposed to complex features later.
Progressive discolure definition: An interface is easier to use when complex features are gradually revealed later. During the onboarding, show only the core features of your product, and as users get familiar, unveil new options. It keeps the interface simple for new users and progressively brings power to advanced users.
Progressive Disclosure example - Duolingo:
✔️ Progressive disclosure checklist
Are you over-sharing information that is not necessary on that page?
Try to either reduce the number of options or find ways to hide items.
Try to put only the most necessary information for them, there and then.
1.3 Decoy Effect
Create a new option that's easy to discard
Decoy effect definition: When we are choosing between two alternatives, the addition of a third, less attractive option (the decoy) can influence our perception of the original two choices. Decoys are “asymmetrically dominated”: they are completely inferior to one option (the target) but only partially inferior to the other (the competitor). For this reason, the decoy effect is sometimes called the “asymmetric dominance effect.”
Decoy effect examples:
✔️ Decoy effect checklist
Understand your user behavior — what are their motivations and pains?
Keep it simple — limit your choices and present them clearly.
Keep iterating. This effect requires you to A/B test constantly.
2. Meaning - UX that makes sense
When users try to give sense to information, they make stories and assumptions to fill the gap.
2.1 Curiosity Gap
Users have a desire to seek out missing information
Curiosity gap definition: The curiosity gap is the space between what users know and what they want or need to know. Gaps cause pain, and to take it away, users need to fill the knowledge gap.
Curiosity Gap example - ADPList:
✔️ Curiosity Gap checklist
Which pages are the most important that you can introduce a gap?
What is the value you’d like to prompt them with the gap?
Try to put the key values to sell them at the gap and keep it simple.
Users adapt more easily to things that look like real-world objects.
Skeuomorphism definition: Skeuomorphism is a design approach where digital objects imitate their real-world counterparts to help users transition to new technology. It relies on Familiarity Bias and "Affordance" (user actions). Skeuomorphism is useful for adapting to new interfaces, but creating a skeuomorphic interface for aesthetics can clutter it.
“Flat design is over” — Brian Chesky, Airbnb
2.3 Aha! Moment
When new users first realize the value of your product
Aha! Moment definition: The aha moment is a moment of sudden insight or discovery. In software, it’s the pivotal moment when a new user first realizes the value of your product and why they need it.
Aha! Moment examples:
✔️ Aha! Moment checklist
What is the value that your product is providing that users are here for?
How fast and soon can you get them to this value before they drop?
Is this value 10x more powerful than they’ve ever experienced?
A summary of checklist for Part 1:
Your user psychology tactics should be always tied to a value.
How fast and soon your value is shown matters a lot.
Can you successfully communicate your value clearly to users always?
Are you showing the most important information at the right time?
How much information should you collect now vs later?
Are you being ethical when you implement these?
Does your user psychology lead people to places they want?
Stay tuned for the next part of this series.
That’s all! Hope this helps you build better products that deliver the best experience for your community. Have a fulfilling and productive week! 🙏
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