Design + Psychology

Design psychology, what is it? And why should designers care?

Design psychology does not provide a magic manual for every design situation. Most design problems do not have an obvious optimum solution. Designers educate users, transform their ideas of what designs and products look like and how they function.

And design users are flexible creatures. They learn to use designs to the point where introducing something better does not automatically lead to acceptance: e.g., the famous dvorak keyboard, with which you could theoretically type up to 30% faster because of key placements. Still no one uses it because we’re so used to slow old qwerty and its learning curve. But when there are confounds, it is good to know about them. And that’s where cognitive psychology for designers comes in.

Designing means having implicit mini-theories on how users function. If you secretly think that viewers are lazy, do not want choice and would rather not think about what they perceive, your designs will differ fundamentally from those made by a designer who thinks that viewers are sophisticated and like to be challenged. Your implicit ideas on how humans function influence your ideas about what constitutes an optimal design solution. You will only find out whether your implicit user models are correct or not if you make them explicit, so they can be tested.

Updated soon! affordances, fitts, aesthetics, calls to action, persuasion, flow, alienation, simplicity, nudging, …