Understanding How Behavioral Design Enhances User Experience

The design community now integrates behavioral design into UX alongside traditional steps like user research, ideation, design strategy, and user testing, emphasizing a holistic approach. Many UX design firms are adopting this comprehensive strategy.

We must understand users and their behavior before creating any product. It is important to know what people do, why they do it, and how to activate them to change their behavior.

Behavioral design is an integral part of UX design that focuses on understanding user behavior and creating experiences tailored to their requirements.

It assists designers in creating user interfaces that are intuitive, engaging, and effective. By understanding how users interact with a product or service, designers can create experiences tailored to their needs and preferences. This leads to a more compelling user experience as users can easily find what they need and complete tasks quickly. Moreover, behavioral design aids designers in locating potential areas for improvement to enhance the user experience further.

Behavioral design utilizes psychology and user research to track the correlation between applications and their users' behaviors which helps them draw a pattern depending on actual behaviors to design products.

Why is Behavioral Design So Important For UX?

UX designers must apply Psychology, Design, and Creativity to analyze what people do and why; only then will they be able to work on a user journey that will empathize with the users and make it more intuitive. Creating designs without considering behavioral science will not yield positive results. It is essential to empathize with users; otherwise, the digital product will fail and not attract any users.

Recently, there have been multiple interactions between UX and user behavior for the right reasons. The reason is that various researchers have come to realize there are numerous psychological factors they must consider when implementing important design guidelines to ensure the correct trajectory in user experiences.

Psychology and user experience go together because only when a designer considers psychology will they be able to create a seamless user design.

“The product will be used when the user's psychological needs are met.”

Psychological Principles in UX Design

Some essential psychological principles must be followed in UX Design firms to ensure an effective user experience. Applying these principles can go a long way in end-to-end user experience projects, from navigation and accessibility to usability and intuitiveness, which improves the experience altogether. ‘Cognitive psychology’ covers the thought process of human beings, such as thinking, emotions, and logical reasoning, and how these aspects become factors for making certain decisions.

Designing Principles

There are principles of cognitive psychology that designers follow when creating the user experience. The human brain searches for common patterns and recognizable objects when it comes to drawing inferences in various environments, such as digital products.

‘Cognitive load’ is an important area when it comes to UX design. It is the mental effort required to process new information.

An optimal UX design understands the importance of reducing the user’s effort to process information, and a sound designer ensures to optimize the user journey and presents content in such a manner that it becomes easier to absorb and process. If not, the user becomes discouraged from proceeding further with the platform.

To understand behavioral design, we must look into Gestalt principles.
Gestalt principles shed light on how humans perceive visuals to process new information or create familiar patterns accordingly. Following are some of the best Gestalt principles:

The Principle of Least Effort

Human beings tend to achieve their objectives with the least amount of effort invested in doing so. This encourages them to carry out their tasks without any challenges or hindrances posed to them. Similarly, in the user experience of digital products, users will only visit the platform when they must apply minimal thinking to carry out their tasks. Only then will their brain perceive it to be a seamless experience.

Using simple icons and keys is the way to go about it as opposed to lengthy descriptions since it is easier for our brains to process visuals than text.

A fascinating and generic instance of this is to design a login page wherein the number of steps involved to register and onboard is minimal and manageable.

This incentivizes users to visit the platform and register without consuming much of their time. Conversely, the more prolonged the process, the more hindrance will be for users to complete their onboarding process, forcing them to exit the platform.

The most straightforward algorithm is the most attractive. For instance, if two paths are given toward a common destination, people will choose the shorter path provided that both are equally safe and comfortable.

This law states that users have a preconceived notion that objects that are closely placed together are closely related to each other. Hence, designers must place icons and elements closer to one another. For example, it is always better to place titles, and their respective descriptions close together for users to interpret more easily.

The law of proximity allows designers to utilize whitespaces to create other factors of representation of information, such as visuals or any other piece of content.

Law of Figure/Ground

This law is based on the placement of elements and how users will use that as a factor to differentiate. According to this law, an element can be considered a figure (a point of focus) or a background. Users differentiate an element depending on the point of focus. This law investigates how the eye can distinguish between a design’s foreground and background.

There are two main factors when it comes to the law of figure in UX Design:

Law of Figure: The size of the element compared to the background The contrast between the ground and the figure.

  • The size of the element compared to the background. For instance, in any content, the header is larger than the body content to differentiate between the two and help it stand out.
  • The contrast between the ground and the figure. The simplest example would be how publishers use black font on a white background to create a contrast to help readers visually. Contrast serves as a great barrier between the two. The same principles apply to UX when it comes to designing digital products. There needs to be a contraction between web page elements or mobile application screens to create better aesthetics and ensure a seamless experience.

The Principle of Perpetual Habit

People are slaves to their habits and refuse to let them go. They rely heavily on their memory and habit when accomplishing any task, like in the case of frequent flyers.

People know they have to check in, pass a security check, clear immigration, and then board the flight. If, for any reason, the process starts with immigration clearance and then check-in, people would get agitated and confused. The same concept applies to digital products like websites and mobile applications. Users want to see the things where they are used to seeing them.

Keeping the principle of perpetual habit in mind allows the designers to create designs that match the users’ habits and give them a feel of comfort and normalcy.

Final Thoughts

By empathizing with users and their psychology, a designer can create the most optimal and intuitive user experience on any digital product. UX and human psychology go hand in hand. There have been multiple derivations from human psychology that have yielded great designs and an enhanced user experience.

People will claim that user interviews are already there to understand human behavior. However, this is different because when humans self-report their behavior, they are not necessarily good at that. This is why studying behavioral design is essential.

UX was once about creating designs based on design guidelines only, but that is not the case in modern times. Studying human motivation behind why they perform certain tasks serves as a prerequisite to undertaking end-to-end user experience projects. This is why new technologies such as AR, VR, and voice-based search tools are implemented to incentivize users to use digital platforms. Hence, the future of UX is directly correlated to studying behavioral science.

Worxwide Consulting is a digital growth consulting firm that helps companies drive growth by improving user and customer experience. We help companies with end-to-end product design or UX design services that include research, strategy, design, and test product designs and prototypes.  Worxwide is based out of the US, UK, and India offering bid consulting, sales transformation, user experience, and customer experience design services.  

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