What We Can Take From Psychology to UX

After I got my psychology degree, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to use it in my career. I loved my classes and thought it was interesting, but I didn’t want to become a psychologist. Six months after graduation, I was introduced to user experience through a friend, and knew this was the intersection between technology and psychology that I wanted.

Coming into user experience from a psychology perspective has a great number of benefits and I wish I had known about the field while I was still in college.

So, what can we take from psychology to UX?

We understand that attention is a limited resource and that people want to do as little work as possible.

As designers, we want to decrease cognitive load as much as possible. As psychologists, we know that people don’t want to work hard to reach their end goal. No one wants to go through an inefficient website to buy a sweater, and if it’s too hard most customers will walk away. Understanding this about people allows you to be a step ahead in the design process.

Basic cognitive psychology principles are the basis of interaction design.

Mental models, mapping, affordances, active listening, observation, empathy, identifying with users, figuring out how to make users elicit certain behaviors and repeat them, problem solving, the gestalt principles. These are some basic principles and skills that make for a successful and efficient design thinking process.

We understand people’s emotions, behaviors, and motivations behind their actions.

Generally speaking, psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Being able to understand people is a tool that is helpful in all parts of life, but especially in UX design. By always having the user in mind, time is used efficiently because the product will either be something the user needs or wants to use.

We empathize with people.

Empathy is the key to building a successful product or service. By imagining being in the user’s shoes, the experience is more customized and in turn, a better one.

We understand that UX research is hypothesis testing and qualitative data analysis.

We have experience choosing data over preference, linking purpose to goals, and not becoming emotionally attached to the product.

Why is our favorite question.

“Why?” is always the first question that pops in our head. Whether it’s a user pain point or a new user flow, “why” is the main problem that we are always trying to solve.