The discipline of behavioral psychology lies at the heart of creating compelling interfaces. Whether seeking to persuade, empower, or delight, behavioral psychology provides valuable insights into how people make decisions.


We tend to think that we are making rational, considered decisions. This can be seen in the way that designers structure and organize websites. But a good designer understands that we are not always logical. Instead of merely displaying product shots, the designer should opt for creating compelling scenes to engage visitors emotionally.

Thus, product descriptions and imagery should not just focus on the products. They should also laud how the product will help people in their lives and become a part of them. 

Make a plan before designing

When designing ecommerce websites we need to take into account different criteria – criteria that define the value of something. This perceived value can be influenced by:

  • The perceived demand and available supply – if something is rare or much in demand, people will pay more for it
  • Our connection to it – we will favor something done by a loved one more than by a professional, although that is more expensive and better done
  • Comparing it to something else


Another factor to consider is the power of social media. Others’ opinions have a big influence on our readiness to buy. Friends, relatives, professionals, and even celebrities’ choices will all influence our decision-making for better or worse. Another important factor is our desire to belong to a social group; the things we purchase form our identity and serve as a signal of which social group we aim to join.

All of this demonstrates that humans are not nearly as logical as we believe, and that we are not particularly adept at making logical decisions.


    The reasons why the cognitive load is so crucial both in our life and for the usability of our interfaces are:

    • It directly relates to our inherent need to conserve energy – the more demanding a conscious mental process, the more effort is required
    • cognitive load can cause us to miss crucial information if we are over-think

    Every individual has their own mental model of how the world works. These models are basic assumptions and processes that we utilize on a regular basis to assist us make decisions and complete tasks. We can considerably lower someone’s cognitive load if we understand and conform to them.

    Choice paralysis

    Another element to consider when minimizing cognitive load is choice paralysis. The more options we give a user, the longer it will take them to decide. Also, if making a decision takes too long, people are more likely to give up totally. We refer to this as choice paralysis. For example, if an ecommerce site has too many products in too many categories, visitors would be overwhelmed and the conversion rate will suffer. This does not apply, however, if there is a significant difference between these options.

    Aesthetics are the final consideration when striving to lessen cognitive load. We prefer to see things in a more positive light if they are visually appealing. It’s also tied to value and trustworthiness. In the case of an ecommerce site, a user’s first impression of the design is enough to make them doubt your product.


    When users perform a task, they have a set of questions they need to answer. The more questions they need to ask, the higher the cognitive load.

    Defaults promote cognitive ease

    A default is a value or settings that promote cognitive ease – it can help remove friction from the process of completing tasks by taking the burden of choice off the user. Defaults come in a variety of forms:

    The default needs to be always set to the choice the vast majority of users (say, 95 percent) would choose if explicit choices were required.

    In user interfaces, we use defaults primarily in forms –  they reduce the amount of work users have to do.

    Don’t ask for data users have already provided. 

    Preloading data in form fields and asking users to verify it is much better than asking them to type all the data again from the beginning.

    You can’t use defaults for input fields that require user attention.

    When people interact with digital products, they don’t read—they scan. As a result, whilst you prefill a field with data, users will frequently pass it, assuming that the query already has an answer.

    Avoid pre-fill controls to your own benefit.

    Pre-filling controls to your own benefit rather than your users’ will most often backfire


    Understanding psychology is an essential aspect to increase conversion rates on ecommerce sites. Techniques which include lowering cognitive load are useful to the person, however there are a few strategies that do greater damage than good. We call them dark patterns – strive to influence the person to buy using psychology.

    Dark patterns undermine long-time period sales

    Users are increasingly becoming aware of their use and strongly resent the sensation of being manipulated. Although conversion rates will grow withinside the short term – as customers are tricked, they can undermine long-time period sales, as human beings do now no longer return or worse still, share their dissatisfaction online.

    Dark patterns create buyers remorse

    Even if customers finalize a purchase, the probabilities are that they may regret it, leading to bad evaluations and online feedback, or worse, the instant financial impact on the business.

    It is viable to apply what we apprehend of behavioral psychology to assist us to convince users to buy while not having bad consequences. For example, most users will appreciate reviews and testimonials, as they assist them to make a decision. 

    In many cases, a user will see your tries to apply psychology in design as a choice to higher meet their needs and make them feel appreciated. This is in the end approximately providing higher customer service.