Human Psychology and Webdesign

by Alex Duncan  |  May 10, 2009 – 3:36 pm


Recently I’ve been working more intensively on improving web interfaces and I feel quite at home in this area. It has however made me hypersensitive to the design of other websites, and how I interact with them.

The most recent example came this weekend, whilst doing a bit of research into super easy to use website creator. I started with a site I had come across a few months before and already had an account with. I dug out my old username and password and gave it another quick look and was instantly charmed by it’s friendly and reasonably straight forward UI.

Wanting to have a look at the competition I headed over to the entry for SnapPages on Crunchbase knowing there would be links to similar companies. I was in luck and was soon looking at Jimdo, Doodlekit, Webs, Yola (formerly SynthaSite), MyDragNDrop and Weebly. I was only aware of it afterwards, but by this point I had already subconciously decided my criteria for selecting a website creation tool.

My first reaction was to the design and layout of their own websites, this was more of a fundamental rather than a specific requirement from a web creation tool. I’m a very asthetic person and so for me design plays a huge role in developing trust. In this regard Doodlekit and MyDragNDrop instantly failed, due to being poorly organised and looking rather dated. At the next stage I was interest in actually seeing the product, easy of use was right at the top of my agenda so I instantly began looking for screenshots, demos and videos. Yola, Webs and Jimdo failed, they were only interested in telling me how great their products were, not showing me, to actually see anything I had to login and that was just too much trouble so they were out. Finally I came to Weebly and our old friend SnapPages where we started, I registered with both and took them on much more thorough demos.

To me as a user-experience creator, the thing that was most worrying about the process I had just gone through was that most of it was intuitive and semi-subconcious. There was little more than a seconds thought before I discarded the other companies offerings often for whimsical reasons and with the huge amount of content out there on the web who can blame me. The amount of information and choice we have to process is ever increasing, and seemingly the time in which we have to do it ever shrinking, so we are forced into skimming and using any way we can to slim down our options into something more manageable. It reminds me of a story a teacher at school once told me of an employer who had dozens of CVs in envelopes on his desk, but too little time to read them all, so as a simple way to cut down the number of applicants he threw away all of those in brown envelopes leaving just a few in white envelopes. As ridiculous as this story may sound the modern web visitor is even more ruthless in the way they treat your website so our job as UI designers becomes ever harder.