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UX Design Part 4: Using Psychology To Make Users Do What You Want

By          July 23, 2021   Product & User Experience   

UX design is all about creating a compelling experience for your users.


It’s knowing what the user wants, and giving it to them quickly and simply. The best UX design makes the user think the website is created just for them.


The fourth, and final, part of the series explains how to use psychology to connect with your users. More importantly, I’ll show you how to make them do exactly what you want.


UX Design Part 4: Using Psychology To Make Users Do What You Want


Using psychology in UX design is seriously cool. In a Jedi mind-trick kind-of-way, not a Sigmund Freud kind-of-way.


Using clever tricks and techniques, you can make your users feel, think, and do anything you want them to.


Psychology is the reason you buy something on Amazon before you realise you want it. It’s why you’re watching another episode of House of Cards on Netflix at 4am. It’s why you can’t help but click on an UpWorthy link.


Their UX design makes us. These companies understand basic human urges. And they make them a core part of their website.


Here’s the scary bit: I’ve already used one of the biggest tricks on you.


Part 1: Understanding Basic Human Urges


The first trick is tapping into your users’ basic human urges.


There are four main primal urges that drive all behaviour online:


  1. Affiliation
    We surround ourselves with people and things that make us happy and define us. It’s why we return to the same website time and time again. Because we relate to them.
  2. Status
    We have a deep need to achieve a better status, whether it’s social, professional or personal. Facebook tap into this by letting us show off our achievements and measuring popularity.
  3. Happiness
    Everything we do is about striving for happiness. The best UX design rewards us with happy feelings at every turn.
  4. Curiosity
    We always want to know more.


Now you know the basic human urges, how do you use them to your advantage?


Part 2: Using Psychology To Connect with Your Users


Humans are naturally curious, but they are also cautious when exploring new things. It’s your job to connect with them and make them trust you.


Relate And Empathise


The quickest way to earn trust is by empathising with people. Show them you understand them. Remember, users are looking for affiliation.


You do this by designing your UX in the image of your target audience. If you’ve read my guide on defining your audience, you should have a good sense of their demographics, interests, and goals. Create your website in a way that resonates with your users.


E commerce giant, Etsy, for example, target the crafts market. Visit their site and you’re greeted with images of their users drawing, stitching, and creating new products.




Their call-to-action asks you to ‘join the community’ and they highlight the comradery between sellers and customers. It provides a welcoming atmosphere for their target audience. If you love crafts, you instantly feel at home here.


It’s scarily powerful. Yet, it’s nothing more than simple psychology and the natural instinct to find a community.


As a small business, you can follow their lead. Use language, content, and images that connect with your target audience. If you’re an e commerce company, make sure your target audience are modeling the product in your imagery. Show your users that you understand their world, and invite them in. It’s the first step to trust and respect.


Prove Your Worth


Unfortunately, that isn’t quite enough to convince them.


Trust isn’t just about likeability and association. It’s about competence. New visitors are naturally cautious of unfamiliar services. It’s your job to break down this caution with the simple psychology of ‘herd-mentality’.


If lots of people do something, we tend to trust it and follow it. So, show new users that lots of other people trust you.


Even the biggest products on the planet do this. GoPro, for example, built the fastest selling camera in the world. And they’re not shy about telling their users! They make that claim across their website, as well as reminding users they have ‘Emmy-nominated performance’.




If the biggest companies in the world are using testimonials and persuasion, so should you. Was your product featured by a prominent website or did it win an award? Put that in your main copy. Do you have a well-known client or famous customer? Show images of them using it or ask them for a testimonial.


Now you’ve brought them into your world and they trust you. Next comes the tricky part.


Part 3: Make Them Do What You Want


Everyone wants something. The trick is to make them want what you’ve got.




Give someone a small taste of something, and it makes them hungry for more. We are born curious. By teasing this basic human urge, you can make users click on just about anything.


Amazon do this really well when selling books. They use an irresistible piece of copy above the book image that simply says: “Click to look inside!” You can’t help but click it!


Amazon's Look Inside


If you’re selling a product or service, give users just enough information to tease them. Give them that psychological urge to learn more. Then show them where to go to satisfy the craving.


I used this trick at the beginning of the article. I told you I had already used psychology on you, and it made you want to keep reading, right? And now you’re here. Curiosity always works.


Just make sure this technique doesn’t backfire. The payoff must be as good as your promise. If it sucks, you turn a good user experience into a bad one.


Reward Your Users


You do this when you teach a pet new tricks; it’s called conditioning. Whenever your users do what you want, reward them! And they’ll do it again. And again.


You can learn a lot from Facebook here. Facebook want you to share as much as possible. It’s what keeps them going. So, they reward you with likes. Every time you get a ‘like’, you get a small hit of happiness. It feels good, so you do it again. You keep sharing.


If you’ve got a product to sell, reward people when they buy it. Offer them a discount on their next purchase. Identify the main conversion goal for your site, and reward people for doing it.


Jedi Mind-trick Complete!


By understanding the basic psychological urges of your users, you can make an emotional connection with them.


When you’ve done that, you can make them do just about anything you want.



About The Author

Daren Low is the founder of With over a decade’s experience in website development and internet marketing, Daren is a top authority on anything to do with building and managing an online business. Pick his brain today by connecting via Linkedin and Twitter.