behavioral science and web design

Behavioral Science and web design – How do they relate?

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At first glance, it might seem to be a rather unusual combination, but only at first. Web design usually reminds people of a creative, dare to say, an artistic process, while science is associated with laboratory and vials. At least in my mind. So, how do these two, seemingly so different subjects come together?

 

Nothing in life is black and white, hence web design is not only art and science is not just chemistry experiment. Let`s figure out where their meeting point is.

 

Web design requires creativity, there’s no doubt about that, however, as our designer says:

 

Contrary to popular belief, designing a modern website is not a sudden brainstorm inspired an epiphany. It is a carefully planned and executed design strategy that focuses on user experience which starts with research.

 

UX, alias user experience takes the users’ needs into account to enhance satisfaction and create an obstacle-free and amusing interaction. (Check out our previous post: What is UX?) How can you know what makes a user happy? Now, here is where behavioral science comes in.

 

Behavioral science is branch of science (as psychology, sociology, or anthropology) that deals primarily with human action and often seeks to generalize about human behavior in society.

– Merriam-Webster

 

It`s not a Wikipedia quote which is highly uncharacteristically for me, but I liked this definition better. It grasps the essence in a perfect way, emphasizing the fact that it’s all about identifying the general manner of human behavior. And this is what web design, especially UX design needs to create a product which pleases the audience.

 

I believe in practical approach, so here are a few examples. Really just samples, because there are thousands and thousands of pages on the matter. You can find a useful list of resources in our article of Being a newcomer in UX.

 

behavioral science and web design

 

FFA: Fusiform Face Area

 

Ooh, sounds fancy. Don’t worry, we are not getting too scientific here, I promise this phenomenon is quite simple.

FFA is a part of the human brain, which is specialized for facial recognition, therefore your brain identifies faces faster than objects. Regarding web design, it means that if you want to evoke a huge emotional impact, you should add close-ups to your website showing faces and eyes. Guaranteed effect, according to research.

 

Center-Stage Effect

 

According to a relatively new study (Rodway, Schepman & Lambert – 2012), when we come across many products at the same time, we prefer to choose the item in the middle. So, if you want to advertise your new product, place it in the middle to make sure it grabs users’ attention. I haven’t realized that effect, but I think I will start monitoring my choices.

 

Too many choices=less purchase

 

In the so-called Jam Experiment, Dr. Sheena Iyenga proved that the fewer items we can choose from, the more likely we actually buy one. That is to say, too many choices simply make us paralyzed and get lost in the opportunities and rather we don’t buy anything. Choice overload is the other term you can find for this effect. Now, that I know well and have experienced many times.

 

UX design and behavioral science is not only related, but intertwined. Although, if I want to be honest, web design cannot be user-centered without knowing how users think, behave, remember and interact, so behavioral science is actually essential for creating a great website.

 

Aren’t these exciting facts? Have you experienced any of these by yourself?

 

 


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Veronika
Usability specialist at TACO Web Design Studio
Veronika is a usability specialist, copywriter, blogger and financial expert with more than 14 years of work history and broad experience. She currently serves as the General Manager at TACO Talking Colors Web Design Studio.
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