The psychology of brilliant digital design, Part II

Factoring in what is cross-culturally appealing

Recap and introduction

In Part I of this article, I discussed psychological factors that determine the effectiveness of digital and print publication design. As OWDT’s Chief Creative Officer, my natural design talent has been sharpened and refined by university education in digital design, higher mathematics and the sciences. I’m especially fascinated by the interplay between perceptual/psychological factors and culture in developing leading-edge digital design.

Most website design companies limit their focus to an industry’s culture and specific demographic. We at OWDT take it several steps further by factoring in what is cross-culturally appealing to potential customers from one country and region to another.

Researching the client and their customers

We begin any project by developing a positive rapport with customers to determine their branding needs and objectives. We also research their evolving customer base in order to best showcase their services/products and catalyze future business development.

Only then do we design the optimal structure and design for each of their web pages. For example, the primary About Us Page objective may be to demonstrate service reliability, leading-edge technology, customer service excellence or some other factor.

Organization of information

Design also encompasses primary objectives that synch with a company’s brand and marketing strategy. A well-designed webpage takes the eye from left to right across the page coming to rest at a primary action link, which should have a larger font contrasted with generous white space.

Because people normally scan Internet text, ‘seeing’ not much more than 20% of the words–headings, taglines and bulleted items also require abundant white space and sharp color contrast to encourage action and facilitate smooth navigation.

Pictures and graphics

  • Human beings are pre-programmed to respond favorably to friendly faces. This is why OWDT designed websites often depict friendly people who project accessibility, kindness and confidence.
  • As with print, high contrast graphics with generous white space enhance comprehension and conversion rates.
  • Selection of colors is critical. Among significant factors–we never use the same color for dissimilar actions, e.g., different colors must be used for login and to purchase. Also, we avoid colors that are easily confused by the 8% of the male population and .5% of the female population who have standard colorblindness.


  • Classical and Renaissance societies recognized the importance of rules of proportion that are innately pleasing to the eye. This includes the Golden Ratio (1.618), Hick’s Law (avoiding long lists of options, but categorizing options from a first page linked to additional pages for product selection), and Fit’s Law (creating larger target links).

In the next and final installment in this series, I’ll introduce more information on the psychology of color, The Rule of Thirds and a number of easy-to-understand Gestalt principles–all of which are integral to excellent design.

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