When considering Human Computer Interaction (HCI) design principles, heuristics and the overarching user experience (UX), typically designers are encouraged to deviate from familiarity and promote novelty in their designs.
Your clients may also ask for unique designs that outshine their competitors’. However, research has shown that people tend to prefer highly prototypical stimuli and perceive these stimuli as more aesthetics appealing – a phenomenon known as the beauty-in-averageness effect. This is an important effect for designers to be aware of.
Prototypicality is the basic mental image your brain creates to categorise everything you interact with. Over time, through interaction with the Internet, users develop certain expectations or schemas for how websites should look and feel. When the designs are at odds with users’ expectations, it causes frustrations, negative effects, and may put the whole design endeavour at risk. So while there might be an urge to be exceedingly creative, it is more appropriate to consult current trends and scientific findings when designing, and deviating from known patterns very deliberately.
The use of colour in Web Design
Users’ initial feelings are crucial, as it is during the first few seconds of interaction that users decide whether or not to continue navigating the website. In particular, website colours contribute considerably to first impressions and have the potential to influence users’ perception, emotional reactions and behavioural intentions.
Research has found that people make a subconscious judgement about any stimulus within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62 per cent and 90 per cent of that assessment is based on colour alone.
But what colour is appealing to users? There is a general assumption that warm colours (red, orange, yellow) are more appealing than cool colours (blue, green, grey). However, the cultural perspective on aesthetics posits that individuals’ aesthetic preference is shaped by their social environment. For example, blue is appealing to Germans but not Canadians and grey is appealing to Canadians but not Germans. So there is a cultural bias and it is vital to identify the right colour for the right audience.
All in all, understanding the psychology behind aesthetic judgements help UX psychologists in creating easy to use as well as aesthetically appealing websites that are backed up with data and theory.