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Psychology triggers that create a fantastic user experience

Being a psychologist, I always try to find innovative ways of improving user experience. It is true that some of these ideas may be accessible to regular people as well, but I'd dare to say that most of them will only be accessible to people who have studied how human mind works. So, here are some of my best finds.


First, it is important to understand that humans want to feel in control at all times. This will also apply to user interfaces and user experience, of course. So, one of the most important UX principles is to make sure that the user feels (and actually is) in control of what's happening at any moment.


The minute people start feeling out of control, they will panic. They won't start screaming while they are trying your product, I assume, but they may quickly uninstall your application, press the back buttons on their browsers, and so on. So, be sure to ease their subconscious minds by helping them understand what is happening on each and every screen, and with each and every user interface element.


This is just the first step of the process, though. You will also need to help them prepare for the next stage. This means that the current screen should explain what is going to happen after they push the "Next" button, for example.


Finally, be sure to design your application in a way that prevents any user mistakes. Pop up a small window that asks them to save the data before exiting the application, for example. Don't allow an accidental mouse click to destroy all their work.


It is happening, and it looks like we can't do anything to stop it: people tend to lose their focus much faster these days, in comparison with their ancestors. There are several causes for this, but it has already been proven that information overflow plays a major part. It's enough to look at a successful videoclip, and you will see that the stage, the story, the colors, and sometimes even the characters change every few seconds.

They do this to keep us entertained, of course. However, as we watch more and more videoclips like these, we experience several negative side effects. We tend to get bored quickly, for example. And our short-term memory is affected as well.


Why is that bad when it comes to UX? Well, some of your users won't be able to store the needed information in their brains long enough, so they won't be able to get the most out of their "next" UI/UX step. Here's a quick example: if you have told them how to pick their favorite user interface colors in the previous screen, they may have forgotten how to do it within 10 seconds or so!


As you can tell, this is a very serious issue, and it's becoming more and more widespread. A functional workaround is to allow people to return to any step of the process, anytime they want to. If you decide to do this, be sure to preserve all the input data while the users are moving back and forth.


Another option is to use a chart, graphic or tutorial image, which presents what needs to be done in an intuitive way. An overview screen may also prove to be useful, especially if you allow people to drill deep down, to any and all steps of the process.


Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to simplify the UI, you may have too many elements on the same screen. I am talking about complex graphics design applications, for example. Corel tackles this problem by splitting the data across several tabs, and it's a great idea. All the data that belongs to a particular category should be included in a single tab, of course.


As you now know, using the services provided by a UX psychologist can greatly improve the functionality of your application and/or website. So, let me know if I can be of help.