4 Brain Hacks only UX Experts used to supercharge user experience & why you should start using them


Human mind plays a crucial role in shaping the user experience of a product or service. Once we clearly understand users’ perception of a product or design, we, as designers can make significant adjustments in the design, so that users find the product delightful and usable. Here are 4 important aspects of human psyche and behaviour that we can make use of while designing

Humans crave control and avoid threats

Make sure the design behaves according to the user expectations. Some videos auto play with audio on page load. This might be a disadvantage, as people always wish to have control and expect the videos to play only on click. The third “heuristic” of Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction – User control and freedom – states that the system should always give users freedom and control to perform an action. The auto-playing of videos might either force the users to stop the video or close the page altogether in panic. This drastic action by the user is triggered by the sympathetic system of our brain, which can also be called ‘quick response mobilising system’. Our brains are hard-wired for certain physiological reactions when provoked by external stimuli or threats – unexpected sight or sounds. Even though the auto-playing video is not physiologically threatening, our brain perceives it as a threat. When we are faced with threats our brain makes us to run away from it or to eliminate them. So, while designing, avoid such threats or unexpected surprises for the user. No wonder “85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound

User sees content in F pattern

As the users move down the first scroll, they quickly lose interest unless the designer introduces some design or content elements to disrupt the monotony and ensure visual stimulation. A right extreme bar is good for social widgets and promo banners or ads. Because they are still within F pattern that visible but these positions do not distract. Around the bottom of F pattern, click to action button may be considered. And right at top of the nav bar on the right is a good place to add phone numbers or contact.

Colors and emotions

Red is associated with aggression, importance, passion and danger, love and war. Physiological effects include increase in blood circulation, quickens breath and races your metabolism. Red is more noticeable so good for highlighting but excess usage will prevent user relaxation and hence may adversely affect decision making. Green is associated with growth, nature and success. It bridges the gap between warm (red and reddish) and cool colours (blue and purple). Mixing warm colours with cool colours will help to effectively highlight the call to action buttons and areas. Blue is associated with Trust, comfort and relaxation and friendliness. Blue colour is used by banks like Chase, Citibank, Barclays etc. Light blue is energising while dark blue is associated with trust and security

Decision Help

Hicks Law states that too much options leads to too much consumption of time in decision making for users. It is sub optimal experience to force users in state of analysis paralysis. This law can be found in operation in most of the news websites, Netflix and many of the long restaurant menus in the physical world. Minimising users’ choices can yield higher conversion rates. Recommended solutions include:

  1. Search fields which are useful if the user knows what they want.
  2. When user does not know what they want, effective categorisation of items can significantly reduce the decision-making time.
    Take away: If a website has a large list of items for the user to choose from, then it’s always best to keep the items well organised and categorised according to the mental model of the users.

So in summary, the following points emerge:

  1. Keep things mellow
  2. Don’t surprise the user with large sights and sounds that will force the user brain to eliminate the threat or to force them to select between fight or flight
  3. Keep them relaxed with cool colours and highlight with warm colours
  4. Meet their mental model and organise the site into categories that user most likely to expect.
  5. If the items are too many for the users to select from, all them to search and limit users ‘choice.
  6. Use the F-pattern to place screen elements above the fold and within the user’s attention field.

While Designing an interface within our application, consider user to be one of the highest priorities, if not the only priority, in order to acquire the user’s undivided attention and active response.