Sometimes you’ve got an amazing logo, website or design experience and it just doesn’t click. The work is innovative and crisp, but isn’t making the emotional connection to your customer that you want.

What’s a business to do? You’ve got to dig a little deeper. The best designs aren’t the ones that simply look stylish and represent their brand. They go one step further – they get inside the mind of the customer.

After reading 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People, we realized that loving a design is not a result of some logical process. Rather, we respond on a subconscious and psychological level.

Here are five UX insights into the human mind that can radically improve customer experience.

1. We process information better in story form


What’s the difference between these two?

“Revenue increased 5% due to improved packaging.”

“One of our customers, Julie, saw the new cereal box in the grocery store. The bright colors and streamlined text caught her eye, and she felt drawn to pick us over the brand she’d been loyal to for the last five years.”

One is a bland, boring statistic. The other is a story that engages us by appealing to our empathetic side. We’re much more likely to remember Julie and her new cereal choice than a random “revenue increase.”

Pro tip: Include a success story video on your homepage for optimal user engagement.

2. Social features motivate us about a product


We are social animals, hard-wired to enjoy interacting with one another. In fact, social engagement causes a release of dopamine, the same hormone that’s released when we laugh or eat chocolate.

Case in point – the highlight of my logo design contest was creating a poll, which I sent to my friends and family. I was able to get their input, see which designs they liked, and share my excitement. The poll ended up being a huge part of how I chose my winner.

Pro tip: Include social sharing buttons to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get people excited about buying your product.

3. We mirror emotions we see


We have special neurons called mirror neurons, which mimic the emotions we find around us. If we see a photo of someone smiling, we smile too and feel a little happier.

The best way to take advantage of this is to make sure the content on our sites reflects how we want our customer to feel. For example, sites that fundraise for sick children might use a photo of a sad little boy. We empathize with him, and it motivates us to donate money to the cause.

Interestingly enough, just the act of smiling creates happiness. We don’t need a reason to be happy – the physical action will release the same endorphins in our brain. We also want to be aware of the emotions we’re creating in people. For example, if a site has tiny text that someone has to squint to see, that squinting will cause feelings of frustration. And chances are, a frustrated customer is not going to buy that product.

Pro tip: Choose elements for your site that mirror how you want your customer to feel.

4. Time is relative


Let’s say your best friend is in town for one hour. You get lunch together, and the hour feels like five minutes. Compare that to an hour spent in the dentist’s chair, where every minute ticks by with excruciating slowness.

Users are more likely to finish a process when the end is in sight. The way to ensure this is to include status bars that show what step they’re on. Being on step 2 of 5 is much more encouraging that drifting through a seemingly endless process.

Pro tip: Include status indicators for any multi-step action on your site.

5. We perceive value based on visual cues


A sloppy, crammed website is not going to pull in a customer, even if the product is the best thing on Earth. The saying goes, “Don’t just a book by its cover.” As it turns out, that’s exactly what we do.

Take a look at your website. Are the pages well organized, with plenty of white space? Is it easy to navigate? Are the colors bright? If not, consider running a contest for web design, to ensure that your online content properly reflects the quality of your product.

Pro tip: Periodically check your online content and make sure it’s visually stunning.

This article was written by Ellie Bahadori
Ellie spends her time at 99designs supporting designers and tackling UX tasks. She’s passionate about clear and elegant design that engages people and creates connections. Her other interests include playing the ukelele, making jewelry, and exploring new places.