The intersection of design and psychology
These two themes might not necessarily seem related… but how can we expect to create good design without understanding the people that the design is intended for? The fusion of these disciplines shapes not just visuals, but also emotions, perceptions, and ultimately, human behaviour. By understanding the captivating dynamics between psychology and print design, we can create targeted designs that speak clearly to their intended audience.
Perception and cognition
Perception is the process through which the brain interprets and makes sense of sensory information from our environment, allowing us to understand and interact with the world around us. Once the person experiences the stimuli, they process the information and start to form an opinion.
Cognition is our brain’s supercomputer that processes the stimuli. The unpredictable part of cognition is that we, as individuals, have unique frames of reference and life experiences. So, the information that is being ingested can then take many pathways depending on the individual’s perspective. When the brain processes the information, it stores it in your short-term memory and continues the information processing sequence.
Our brain can only hold the information for a short period of time and then, if it isn’t compelling enough or relevant to us, it is discarded. Too much information frustrates the brain and can lead to what is called cognitive overload. As the name suggests, it’s presenting the brain with more information than it can process, resulting in inaction or confusion.
The better designers can understand how the mind works, the greater their ability to design products and experiences that meet users’ needs. By considering that the brain determines what is relevant and draws conclusions by associating them with things it already understands, designers can create more impactful materials that are tailored to their audience.
Simplicity addresses cognitive overload and provides the consumer with a pathway to information that is easily ingested.The human brain processes visuals faster than text, a concept known as the picture superiority effect. This translates into a design’s ability to seize attention, initiate a dialogue, and evoke curiosity.
Designing print materials often revolves around branding and identity, and psychology sheds light on the role of familiarity in building trust. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that repeated exposure to a brand’s logo leads to increased familiarity and, consequently, a higher likelihood of purchase. In print, where tangible materials are held and examined, tactile familiarity amplifies this effect.
Print designs that incorporate consistent branding elements foster a sense of reliability and recognition. Every time a user encounters the brand’s logo, colours, or typography, it reinforces their connection to the brand, echoing the psychology-driven principle of familiarity’s impact on consumer behaviour.
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