4 Marketing Psychology Principles to Integrate Into Web Design

by Tiffany Parnell, Senior Copywriter - 03/06/17

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Telling an engaging story extends beyond the words on the screen. The colors, typography, and photos on your website, as well as the site’s usability, also play sizeable roles in helping visitors connect with brands. Find out how to apply concepts of marketing psychology to your website’s design.

Purchases are usually emotional decisions, and people are most likely to share and interact with content that connects with them on an emotional level. Why else would anyone spend $4 on a cup of Starbucks coffee or choose to spend 25% or more on groceries at Publix than they would at Aldi?

This principle, coupled with the fact that people’s attitudes, motivations, cultural backgrounds, experiences, and even attention spans influence how they consume and react to content, demonstrates a strong marketing-psychology link.

Make Marketing Psychology Work for You

Mix-and-match these psychology-based tips to enhance your website design and maximize your site’s conversion rates:

  1. Get into the heads of your target audience.
    Creating fictional personas that embody the attributes of your target audience isn’t just useful when writing compelling content. Personas can also help predict how audiences will feel about a website’s design, according to Designmodo.

  2. Less is sometimes more.
    In the 1920s, German psychologists developed the Gestalt principles, theories about how humans perceive visual information. How do these apply to website design?One theory of Gestalt psychology states that humans prefer simplicity. Five case studies presented in a Kissmetrics blog post show that theory’s validity. In these examples, marketers from different companies and industries tested two versions of their website. One version featured a variety of videos, images, and other attention-grabbing features. Free of fancy tech, the second versions contained designs that were simpler and cleaner—and judging by improvements in conversion rates, clear favorites of users. Similarly, Neil Patel advocates for applying Hick’s Law to web design. According to Hick’s law, the amount of time it takes people to make a decision is directly related to the number of stimuli, or options, present. When people have more choices, it takes them longer to make a decision to purchase an item or engage with a piece of content. Ways you can eliminate extra choices that muddle decision-making, according to Patel, include limiting the number of form fields and CTAs, or only including share buttons for social media sites frequented by your target audience.

  3. Go for the gut.
    Visceral designs elicit an immediate, positive emotional response and increase the likelihood that people will want to visit your website again in the future or share it with friends. One way to connect with people on a visceral level is to use photos of people who convey authentic emotion.


  4. Colors matter.
    When you think about the branding of Starbucks coffee, Coca-Cola, or Apple, what immediately comes to mind? Each one of these companies has an iconic logo and “signature” color that is easily recalled.

Whether or not people emotionally react to certain colors in the same way is in dispute, but the colors you choose when designing your site and creating your logo are undeniably important. According to a Management Decision literature review, you have 90 seconds to make a good first impression, and 62 to 90 percent of a person’s initial assessment is based on color alone.

Survey the marketplace and find out what colors your competitors are using. Hint: You want to make sure to choose a different color than competitors on your website, so your brand site is easily recognized as an extension of your brand.

A survey of 232 men and women of various ages asked participants to answer questions about color and choose their favorite and least favorite colors from the choices of black, blue, brown, green, grey, orange, purple, red, white, or yellow. Results show that men and women favor blue and typically dislike orange and brown. The color purple evoked a gender divide: 22 percent of men ranked purple as their least favorite color, while 23 percent of women chose purple as their favorite.

Finally, consider your brand’s personality when building a color scheme. According to an infographic prepared by Colourfast and shared by HubSpot:

  • Black can denote a sense of style, luxury, and sophistication.
  • Blue highlights a sense of trustworthiness, honesty, and tranquility.
  • Red is bold and associated with love, energy, and passion.

The Secret Is A/B Testing

Marketers have many tools at their disposal, including tenets of psychology, to help predict how users will react to their websites. However, these rules are not one-size-fits-all approaches. It’s impossible to predict how every individual will react, for example, to the color of your CTA button. That’s why the secret to success lies in A/B testing. Use all of the tools in your arsenal to make educated choices, and then put these choices to the test to see which ones your target audience actually prefers.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Audience Segmentation & Targeting

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