The psychology of brilliant digital design, Part III

Benefit from larger font and more white space

Webpage composition guidelines

Decades of design and marketing research have revealed design principles that increase website and conversion rates and printed page marketing appeal.

These underscore the following requirements:

  • Keep It Simple–

Consistent with Hick’s Law, avoid overloading any webpage with too many decision links. This also means eliminating all distracting options or design elements. Less is indeed more in an era plagued with decision overload. This rule is consistent with one of science’s foundational principles: Occam’s Razor, which states that the simplest solution is usually the best.

  • Optimize Visual Hierarchy–

Top to bottom, left to right, provide different types of visual hierarchy that determine what readers see or overlook. For example, calls to action links should be to the right (after header information) and in a contrasting color. Value propositions benefit from larger font and more white space for better contrast. Unfortunately, far too many sites still don’t incorporate these related guidelines. For example, Home Page links are too often presented in small, unbolded type at the bottom of page, or, even worse, virtually invisible two-thirds of the way down the page.

  • Create a Hierarchy of Menus–

If your company provides a comprehensive list of services and/or products, congratulations! However, if you introduce that information with a long, all-inclusive gateway page menu this will reduce your conversion rate and sales. Instead, create a shorter intro page menu defining general categories, each of which links your potential customer to the complete list of the specific product or service options they’re interested in.

  • Size Objects and Links Carefully–

Fit’s Law stipulates that calls to action links need to be sized larger (20% bigger or small items is often enough). For example, Spotify makes it easier to hit the Play Button because it is larger, in a contrasting color, and towards the bottom of the page (which in this case is visually intuitive).

Crop Images in Accordance with the Rule of Thirds–If you divide any image you wish to post online into nine equal parts (2 equally spaced horizontal lines; 2 equally spaced vertical lines), be aware that the intersections of those lines map is where the eye goes. So, if, for example, you have 50% blue sky at the top of an image, crop the top of the image down to raise the horizon so that the eye is drawn to ground features that you want the viewer to notice.

Intuitive/subconscious elements of first impressions

Gestalt Psychology is based on the principle that the whole exists independently from/is greater than its parts.

gastalt psychology

Key Gestalt guidelines include:

  • Group Logically Related Issues Together–

Functionally related objects need to be placed together in some kind of recognizable order/pattern, as with related links. Similarly, by all means avoid grouping objects with dissimilar functions.

  • Observe the Law of Symmetry–

Most people strongly prefer symmetry to asymmetry. Consistent with the Rule of Thirds, the mind responds favorably to objects spaced out evenly around a center point. A related factor–we tend to see two unconnected symmetrical elements as one. This is consistent with The Law of Closure by which we fill in visual gaps (broken lines) to see whole objects.

More on color in design coming in future posts:

Selection of colors is critically important for so many reasons that I’ll be posting a series of articles exclusively devoted to this subject in the near future.

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