The environmental psychology of website design
Designing your website is about putting yourself in the shoes of the customer. How will they feel when they visit your site? How will they react?
Your priority is to give your customers an experience they will enjoy and feel comfortable with. If they don’t find this, they may go elsewhere.
Environmental psychologists often study how design can affect mood and how mood can influence engagement. A greater level of engagement is linked to positive moods. Design crafted for engagement.
Designing a website for your visitors should be like designing an office for your employees or a retail space for your customers. A good office design should have a range of working spaces, large and small, lively and quiet, to cover the types of work undertaken and the personalities of the employees. Similarly, a good website should have content arranged for a variety of visitors, detailed and brief, striking and subtle, to cover the different types of visitor and their personalities. Some visitors are casually browsing whilst some know exactly what they want. They may be the type of person who is easily influenced by a persuading image or they could prefer, being cautious and meticulous, to dig deeper into copy.
The importance of colour
Office spaces should be relaxing when workers are performing difficult mental tasks, whereas more physical jobs can be better suited to a livelier environment. And hence, websites with complex products should have a relaxing colour scheme so the visitor can concentrate on the details. Those sites with simpler items can cope with a more energised design.
We tend to relax when faced with light and unsaturated colours, where the layout is clean and uncluttered. Ordered websites, like ordered offices and retail space, are easier to understand. This leads to designs with a limited colour palette and a tendency to keep patterns minimal. They must keep these principles in mind without going overboard. Too little variation will lead to a bland and stark environment which can be confusing, uninspiring and cold.
Give your customers control
Making your customers feel valued is a key technique in keeping them interested in your site and your brand. Just like giving office employees some control over their environment, such as lighting, temperature and the furnishing arrangements, giving your web visitors access to customise their online environment can make them feel more engaged with your product or service.
This could be in the form of a user account where they can login and change settings based on their preferences. Giving your customers an area where only they can access gives a degree of privacy; it may also persuade them to come back more often. This has the added benefit of allowing you to promote items suitable to the logged in user.
Listen to feedback
In the better designed offices, employees will be questioned about their jobs and their working behaviours. How can the office be built to maximise their performance? This doesn’t always happen and, as such, office workers are far more likely to be disgruntled.
That is why listening to customer feedback is very important when it comes to changing and adapting to your customers’ needs. Before redesigning your site, send out questionnaires that ask relevant questions in order to shape the new design, layout and user experience. That way you know you will be creating a site that your customers will like. You will be in the shoes of your customer. Design your website like you design your office.