The use of psychology in empowering the user experience design: the link between UX and the human factors psychology

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When people hear the term UX design, they instantly relate it to applications and software, but it is actually related to so many things and disciplines. The User Experience design does represent an extensive interdisciplinary realm that encompasses so many realms of design and engineering. The UX principles and theories are being applied and used in so many other fields.

The thing is that UX principles and thinking processes are built on empathy, the anticipation of people’s needs, and the effective creation of solutions that fit those needs and make these people’s lives easier. Empathizing with people enables UX design to put people first, and then make sure that what we create is valuable, usable, useful, and satisfying.

When the UX designer is working on a particular project of design, he tends to use a wide range of philosophical approaches and sets of thinking models to make his designs as functional as they are supposed to be. The psychology field is also highly used to enhance and empower the UX end-user designs he is working on. The huge integration of psychology in UX design can be explained by the fact that one of the first fathers of design, Don Norma, is actually a well-known cognitive psychologist.

And in this article, we will be focusing on human factors psychology and how it can be effectively used within your designs to secure empowerment and enhancement.

What does psychology have in common with UX design?

Psychology is not only about diagnosing peoples’ mental health issues and disorders; it is a lot more than that. Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind, human behavior, the human memory mechanism, the learning theory, and groupthink as McLeod (2019) states.

Psychology seeks to study, describe, understand, and then explain human behavior and cognition all along with studying its occurrences, predicting their future possible instances, and then attempting to change them in a more beneficial healthy manner.

The UX design process shares so many processes and goals with psychology since a UX designer is supposed to describe and deeply understand his users‘ behaviors and emotions, in order to better explain and predict things and create better designs that can actually match their expectations. The analysis aims of UX design and psychology and their approaches in relation to the human aspects of behavior are so much alike. By using some of the advanced experimented principles of psychology, UX designers can actually achieve great success and an enhanced level of design functionality.

What is the human factors psychology?

The human factors psychology has to do with drawing connections between people and a particular system. The system we are talking about could actually be a chair, a robot, or a space shuttle. This psychology branch seeks to understand the human-systems connections in order to improve and empower them. The findings of its studies and problems analyses enable creators of such systems to develop their products and better design them in a way that fits human needs and expectations.

How to use the human factors psychology in the UX design?

There are two main principles of the human factors psychology that we can use to empower and enhance our designs:

  • The mental model principle: you should always design taking into consideration users’ mental models that include the connection between your product function and their perception of actions and behaviors when using it. You can uncover these things via user research methodologies and tools.

  • The cognitive load principle: this has to do with the human memory mechanisms. There are three different types of memory: the long, the short, the working. In design, we mainly use the last type that is capacity limited and related to the cognitive load. To better use its capacity, you should make your designs built on the designs that your users are already familiar with.

The two principles can only work when linking them with consistency to make sure your users will not need a high cognitive load.


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