Design is intrinsically intertwined with psychology. Blue is used on websites to promote trust, because blue has a calming affect on people. We use bright, bold colors for buttons because that's what the eye looks at first.
To be a good designer requires understanding how your audience thinks.
In order to become a better designer, I recently purchased and read 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People. Dr. Susan M. Weinschenk, the author, holds a Ph. D in Psychology and has worked in applying psychology to the design of technology for over thirty years.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who's in charge of design for a business: whether you're the business owner who fills the role of art director, or a fellow designer. But for now, until you get a chance to read the whole book, I've written up my four biggest takeaways.
People Want Stories
We like to think, as rational adults, that what persuades us the most are hard facts and figures, but that's not actually the case.
What we want are stories, and taking full advantage of that human desire means using anecdotes rather than facts, or showing people taking actions we want our viewers to take, and giving people rabbit trails to follow and investigate on our website.
Attention Is Not Focus
You may know that people love looking at people's faces, and eye-tracking shows that's what we look at first in a design. But what you may not know is that just because something gets a viewer's attention, doesn't mean the viewer will remember it ten minutes later.
Instead of focusing on grabbing attention, focus on creating memorable content.
Design Builds or Destroys Trust
The look and feel of a website or business determines if someone trusts it or not. If someone distrusts a business or website, it's usually because of the design. If they do trust it, it's because the design persuaded them to read content and the content was valuable.
So when asking someone why they trust a business or company, they'll probably talk about the businesses values or practices, but don't forget that it was the design that got them to learn about those values and practices in the first place.
Simple is Better
People love choice. Or, they do until they have too many choices. Four seems to be the magic number when it comes to categories, item groupings, or most kinds of client choice.
Did you know the simpler the font used in written directions, the simpler readers will think the task is to complete?
It is estimated that we receive 40 million sensory inputs every second - no wonder we're attracted to simplicity.
Good Design is About People
I learned so much from this book (100 things, in fact) but the biggest point it drove home was this: you have to know your people in order to be a good designer.