7 Powerful Design Techniques

Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash

So you’ve been tricked, and I’ve been tricked. UI and UX designers continue to trick people on a daily basis, there are various methods used in marketing and business by designers who “hack” people’s brains. I’m going to share these techniques with you in this article.

You may be wondering why are they useful, or why are they important? Well, because you can use them for your client projects or even on your portfolio website to drive clicks and conversions.

1. Decision fatigue syndrome

The first thing I’m going to talk about is decision fatigue syndrome, which states that people tend to get stuck or confused when given too many choices. When a viewer of a design or a user of an app or website has decision fatigue, it causes them to make poor choices. They then become disinterested in the media and often abandon the design or website altogether. That is of course not a good result for you or your design. So, when displaying objects or design elements that require the viewer to view them individually, don’t overwhelm them with a huge amount of choice.

One real-life example here might be your design portfolio, don’t throw in 20 projects to your portfolio because this can lead to decision fatigue. You want those potential clients to not become confused or disinterested in your work. Focus on the important.

2. Center stage effect

The next method is called the center stage effect, now I’m sure you’ve seen it in action and maybe have even been encouraged to buy something because of it. The center stage effect states that a user often selects the middle item from a choice of three, so say, for example, there are three different pricing plans on a website; $15, $25, and $50. The middle one at $25 seems to stand out more than the other two. Perhaps the designer has made it bigger, brighter, and bolder, all of which help to make the viewer subconsciously choose the middle choice.

Of course, this technique won’t work for everyone or even the majority of people, but this middle pick will get a lot more clicks and reversions than the other two on either side. It is a tried, tested, and proven method.

3. Social Proof

The next thing to talk about is social proof, and it’s getting more important every year. That’s why you see websites proudly displaying their Trust Pilot score on their homepage. This is because not only does it show that people have a good experience with that product or company, and it’s like reliable evidence from the past, but also people tend to move into a herd mentality.

We like to follow the crowd when it comes to certain things. But how can this help you? Well, if you have a portfolio website, it might be a good idea to get some testimonials from previous clients, or you could get things like fellow designers commenting on your social media posts or your work. Social proof is a powerful technique once applied properly.

4. Progressive disclosure effect

The next technique to be aware of is called the progressive disclosure effect, and this is about how people get overwhelmed when given complicated tasks or projects. If that complicated task is then broken down into individual tasks, which often start out simple and increase in complexity, it can encourage that person to stay focused and within the task itself. This can be applied to infographics, brochures, or flyers.

So often we have to explain something visually and if we break it down into separate components and in a simple way, the design is better accepted by the viewer. You can also use this to show how you’ve resolved issues for clients in your portfolio. Break your design process down into easily digestible sections, and that will obviously help potential clients understand your workflow easily.

5. Von Restorff effect

The Von Restorff effect is super useful for all kinds of designs. It states that when people are presented with multiple items or design elements, their brains begin to remember or recall the ones that stand out and are different from the others. You can see this in many forms in different forms of media, for example in a magazine when you see a quote from a group of text, and it is bigger, bolder, or just a different color. Or, of course, when a call-to-action button is distinctly different from the rest of the design. It’s just another tool or technique to add to your arsenal of directing the viewer and leading them around your design.

6. The Ikea effect

The Ikea effect is quite a sneaky technique. Basically, people will value something extra if they had some kind of input into its creation, so let’s take, for example, a website where you download royalty-free music or images or videos. You pay a monthly fee to sign up and download that material, but the website itself may allow you to create favorite lists or categories to organize your downloads, which are personal to you and your account. You would then be more likely to stay subscribed and maybe even make future purchases because you took an active role in creating something on that website. This technique can obviously be translated in many ways in different UI design and business projects in general.

7. Miller’s law

So miller’s law dictates that humans can only memorize a finite amount of information. How much information changes from person to person, but most people can recall three to five bits of information at a glance. Designers should learn to limit how much information they present all at once, or just break things down into a hierarchy of importance, so then you have things that you really want to stick in the minds of the person or the viewer, and you’d make them more obvious than everything else.

You can see how all of these laws and techniques kind of intertwine with each other. Hopefully, I have taught you something new so that you can create even better and more effective designs.