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Principles of Gestalt

Learn how web designers use psychology in creating websites. These 5 principles will tell you how the similarity of human thought process dictates design.

Written By: 

Ben Schaefer


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Gestalt Principles in UX Design

As with any psychological principle, learning to incorporate the visual ideas of gestalt into your design work can greatly improve the user experience. Understanding how the human brain works and then using those natural tendencies to create better interactions makes a user feel more comfortable on a website.

Gestalt principles are relatively easy to incorporate into just about any design and can quickly elevate it from something haphazard to one that offers a seamless, natural interaction that guides users toward the action you want them to take. All creatives should have an instinctual understanding of these principles.

In UX design, using similarity makes it clear to your visitors which items are alike. For example, when using a list and incorporating repetitive design elements, the similarity principle would make it easy to scan through them. In contrast, changing the design elements to something you want to highlight gives them more importance in the visitor’s perception.

The continuation principle can be a valuable tool when the goal is to guide a visitor’s eye in a certain direction. They will follow the simplest path on the page, so make sure the most vital parts they should see fall within that path.

Another very important example of closure at work in UX and UI design is when you show a partial image fading off the user’s screen in order to show them that there is more to be found if they scroll down. Without a partial image, or if only full images are shown, the brain doesn’t interpret that there might be more to be seen, and your user is less likely to scroll.

In UX design, proximity is most often used in order to get users to group certain things together without things like hard borders. By putting like things closer together, with space in between each group, the viewer will immediately pick up on the structure.

Usually your brain will interpret the larger area of an image as the ground and the smaller as the figure. However, lighter and darker colors can influence what is viewed as the figure and what is viewed as the ground, especially with white and black.

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