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.

5 Tips for User Interface (UI) Design

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At Yasurf we do our utmost to provide clients with the nicest, most beautiful, and most efficient mobile journeys. User Interface Design (UI) is one of the disciplines that makes this possible. I would like to share some interesting tips. UI focuses on the visual design of the user interface. It is part of User Experience Design (UX); the user experience of mobile journeys.

UI is intended to help the user achieve goals using visual elements. The primary goal is to make the user understand what is expected of him or her and to let them go through a frustration-free journey.

Before we start making mobile journeys interactive, we develop wireframes. This is a blueprint for the ‘flow’ that the end-users will go through: how are the users activated, what actions they have to perform and what is the end destination they eventually travel to. Every moment within the ‘flow’ is provided with the right structure, context, and appearance to allow the user to perform the right action.

1. Start with the final result in mind

I ask my clients what their desired result is that they want to achieve with mobile journeys. Is this offering as much experience as possible, collecting money, raising awareness, or would they like to get in touch with new target groups and get to know them better? The goal is everything that determines the final interface design. Sometimes they want to prompt the user to take multiple actions; then the trick is to set up the interface in such a way that the user is taken along in a logical flow where he is told in a very accessible way with visuals what is expected of him and what actions he must take. In my working method, I ensure that the hierarchy determination and readability are placed in such a way that the user performs tasks in the desired order.

2. Use recognizable elements from everyday life

From the mobile journey, people can share online promotions, donation requests, and invitations via WhatsApp and other social media. At the moment, this is the communication channel that most Dutch people use on a daily basis. That is why we place the WhatsApp contact function on the contact page. Recognizable icons, color compositions, and illustrations help the user to understand the interface more easily and quickly and to take action.

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3. Boost user trust using UI and sweet spot content

The interface design should communicate the brand values of your organization in such a way that the trust of the users is strengthened. A consistent application of the corporate identity of the organization and/or the campaign ensures recognizability. Sweet spot content helps with this. This is content that is in line with your brand values and tailored to the interests and interests of your target group. Think of the tone of voice, tips, explanation, image, or video of fellow collectors, volunteers, or well-known ambassadors who are committed to your organization. They appeal to your target group and at the same time represent the brand values of your organization.

4. Center the user and make them feel seen.

The user is always central in the mobile journeys. To make an online donation request or invitation personal, attractive, and reliable, every user can make the mobile journey ‘unique’. He can put together his profile (own profile picture, motivation, target amount) on a personal page. This information is sent with the invitation to let friends donate. In addition, a user also gains insight into his own results so that he feels that he is seen and his actions matter.

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5. Surprise and challenge the user

This can be done by adding surprising animations or game elements that enrich the user experience of the end-user. This is also known as gamification. An example of this is the mobile collection of Hartstichting, where collectors could obtain different medals (bronze, silver, or gold) based on their personal yield. A countdown clock or a progress bar of the income can be shown as an extra incentive for the mobile collector.

Did you know this about UX & UI design?

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Everyone has their own interpretation of what UI- and UX designers do. There are many abstract and conceptual terms thrown at your head to denote the difference between the two. That’s why I want to make it clear to you what exactly these two functions mean.

Suppose you come to a website, and you try to think for yourself how it is structured in terms of design. The average person would think that a UI designer or a web designer created this, but in reality, the UI designer is only one part of the puzzle.

A UI designer is interested in things like typography, for example, making sure they follow the right basic principles. They are interested in white space or negative space, which ensures that the interface has a structure between elements. But they are also interested in colors if they for example provide enough contrast, both for usability and readability. Finally, they are also working on icon and illustration design, and they are also responsible that the design looks great on every device.

But the role of a UI designer is, like I said, only part of a small section of user experience design or for short; UX design. UX design is a process that consists of different phases: brainstorm, define, design, test, and launch.

Did you also know that sometimes UX design has nothing to do with UI design? UX design has to do with everything that you use or interact with, even the door of your bedroom has been thought through with a certain process. UI design is only meant for, of course, an interface. But anyway, let’s go through the stages of UX design.


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The first phase is brainstorming. It is an active discovery phase that revolves around generating ideas about the user and possible needs or challenges that the user may have. During the brainstorming phase, you generate ideas to solve a problem, understand the audience you are designing for, and identify the audience’s needs or challenges. Research plays a key role in this first phase as you explore different ways of getting to know the audience you are designing for. UX researchers and writers are often closely involved in this phase, where you can conduct interviews with potential users or conduct other research.


The second phase is define. This phase is all about using the insights from the brainstorming phase and narrowing the focus. During the define phase, you determine concrete ways in which the product being developed will influence the user. As a UX designer, you will think more about specific details related to the product, who the product is for, what the product will do and what features need to be included for the product to be successful. Statements that outline the goals or outline any problems you want to answer with the product design are the focus in the define phase.


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The third phase is design. In this phase, the UX Designers communicate with the UI designers. In the design phase, UI designers actively develop ideas and also check whether all specifications from the define phase are realistic. The first two phases were more about preparation and planning. These phases give you a clear picture of whom the user is, what the user wants, and which problems or challenges you want to tackle in the design. With the insights from the first two phases, UI designers generate designs that keep the user top of mind. You create many resources, including storyboards, which are sketches that help explore the user experience, or wireframes, which provide the outlines of the content layout. Or you can create prototypes, which are models that allow UX designers to test the functionality of a design.


The fourth phase is testing. In the test phase, you evaluate the product design based on feedback from potential users. Testing designs with users is very important because it helps you focus on the user first and the designs second. Testing helps identify areas to refine or improve the designs. It also helps UX designers to think about the interactivity of the design. This is a phase where there is a lot of interaction between UX designers and front-end engineers as they devise ways to create an end product that meets user needs, is practical and functional. They discuss things like how the color or font fits the company’s brand, or whether the prototype designs are easy to understand.


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Finally, the final stage of the product development lifecycle is the launch or sharing of a finished version of the product with the public. This may include placing an app in the App Store, a website going live, or placing a physical product on store shelves. The launch can be very satisfying for UX designers because you get the chance to understand how your designs are received in the real world. However, work on a product isn’t quite finished after launch. You can still identify opportunities to improve the designs or learn even more about the user experience based on feedback. This may involve going back to the design or testing phase and figuring out ways to produce an improved version of the product.

You may be wondering if UI design is a subset of UX design, does that make a UX designer a UI designer? The answer to that: It depends. It depends on a number of factors, for example, if you are a freelancer, and you do everything on your own, then you are indeed a UX and a UI designer. But if you participate in a large company, you also have to deal with many people, each of whom has their own unique qualities. In that case, however, the roles are divided into different phases, and you can therefore have access to the UI designer role.

5 Tips To Improve Your UI Design

Everyone has to start somewhere, but it’s always nice to get some extra tips when you start something. Here are 5 tips I wish I knew when I first started user interface design.

1. Hierarchy

Make sure to plan the hierarchy of your project. If you have a hierarchy plan before you start designing, you have a good foundation to start with your design. It will give you the clarity to know exactly where to start and which screens and pages to create. This will promote a better user interface because you know which screen to take where. Extra points for the user experience, because your design will flow much better this way.

Therefore, if you’re not already planning the hierarchy of your products, I suggest you spend some time on this. You can sketch it on paper or use a program, personally, I use Adobe XD. It’s about visualizing the hierarchy for yourself before you start wireframing and developing your screens.

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2. Accessible navigation

You may have planned an excellent hierarchy that promotes a good user flow, but if you have terrible navigation or your users can’t access it, then it’s all pointless. So for tip number two, make sure you have good navigation. It should be simple and easy to use and, of course, have access to it.

I think we’ve all experienced it when you want to select something in an app or a website, we feel like we’re stuck there, and we don’t know how to get back. So something as simple as adding a back or close icon to the screen can dramatically improve the user experience.

So make sure that your well-designed navigation has good functionality, also accessibility is a good thing to focus on. If users can’t find something, or it doesn’t work properly, these users probably won’t be using the product for long.

Easily going back with the back button

3. Clear dialogue

Make sure that your text and dialogue in the design of your products are not confusing or illegible.

As a designer, we often don’t have full control over what a client wants in a body of text, but our job is to at least advise them on what good practices they should do. Like not using the same word 15 times in 1 paragraph or displaying a book that is unreadable on a website, for example.

The text should not only look great, but it should also be incredibly easy to read. Because that dialogue is part of the design as a whole, so the text must come across well visually, but also substantively.

4. User feedback

For tip number four, be sure to provide your users with feedback. Applying small elements in your design, such as loading a button or a hover effect on the desktop version, can improve the user experience considerably. That’s because you’re giving users information based on their actions.

There is nothing more annoying than being on a website, and you click on the “buy now” button, but you don’t see anything change or load. So you ask yourself: “Should I click it again?” or “did it work?”. This will cause confusion and panic and will lead to a bad user experience.

So again, adding the little elements like button loading and hover effects can really change the way your design is perceived. So make sure you give the user that crucial feedback.

5. User testing

This is probably the most important tip, make sure you test your product with potential users. Don’t worry if it’s not possible to test on the right audience, testing something is better than not testing.

You want to make sure that you test it yourself first, for example by making a prototype. You often come across some bottlenecks this way. Then you could test your products on friends or family to see how they experience your product. It is always possible to go to online design-related communities to test your designs. It is always good to collect some feedback.

See how others think and how they view your product, because what works well for you may not work for someone else.