Empathy in UX Design: Designing with a Human-Centered Approach


Imagine this: you stumble upon a website with a plain white background, tiny black text, all aligned to the left, and not a single visual in sight. How does that make you feel? Intrigued and ready to explore, or eager to click back to find something more appealing? Chances are, many of us would opt for the latter. After all, websites like these appear outdated and lackluster. Just the aesthetics give the impression that the content might not be worth our time. That’s why it’s crucial to dig into design elements and choices and understand how they connect with our natural behaviors and thought processes. 

In the captivating world of UX design, cognitive psychology plays a crucial role in creating intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable interfaces. User-centered design principles cater to users’ needs, delivering delightful experiences. All you need to keep in mind is the “empathize” phase of the design thinking process. You don’t need a psychology degree to work this magic!

From The Theoretical Perspective

If you’ve thought about it, a researcher has probably explored it. As designers, there are numerous essential theories and concepts to grasp, understand, and apply in our craft. And don’t worry, we won’t let you get bored! Let’s dive into a few of these intriguing concepts to spark your creative curiosity!

Retention Theory

It’s all about striking the perfect balance between the information we give users and how long they stay on a page. You see, users have limited focus, and with pop-up ads, links, sidebars, and images, there are distractions all around. But here’s the cool part – designers can use this theory to figure out how much info users can absorb in a certain time frame and anticipate any obstacles that could affect their retention. Smart, right?

Miller’s Law

This one’s exciting – it tells us that the average person can only hold about 7 items in their working memory! This is where chunking comes into play: this means grouping bits of info, like assembling puzzle pieces, to create cohesive units. In user experience design, chunking is a fundamental concept, making interactions with products a breeze and the whole experience enjoyable. So, in UX design, chunking, and categorizing info is crucial for a successful product! 

Jakob’s Law

When you’re just starting, you might be tempted to create something unique, something the users would never have seen before. However, Jakob’s law counters this, stating that users prefer familiar experiences because they then have to invest less effort in just understanding them. By aligning with familiar design patterns and industry standards, you’ll hit the perfect balance between meeting user expectations and crafting designs that are intuitive and user-friendly. 

Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law, also known as the Hick-Hyman Law, states that the time it takes for a person to make a decision increases with the number of choices they have. In the context of user experience design, this principle emphasizes the importance of simplifying decision-making processes to improve user efficiency and satisfaction.

Similarly, The Von Restorff Effect aligns with Hick’s Law by emphasizing the need to make important elements stand out. By reducing the number of distractions and visually highlighting crucial choices, UI/UX designers can speed up decision-making. Also, considering cognitive load is essential as it refers to the mental effort required for users to complete tasks. By providing clear and concise micro-copy and instructions, we can enable users to make decisions more efficiently, just like that!

What Else?

Now that we’ve explored various theories, it’s time to embrace some flexible guidelines that play a significant role in UI/UX design. In the digital world we live in, a website is very essential to any business, so much so that its very survival may depend on it. So it’s crucial to map out a plan and avoid falling into the trap of below the par, unwholesome websites. It’s important to cover all the bases when ensuring that your website is not only functional but also impressive and user-friendly. These principles of UI/UX design offer valuable insights to create exceptional user experiences and allow designers to predict user behavior. Intriguing, right? Let’s dive in and discover these key principles that will elevate your designs to new heights! 

The Principle of Least Effort

Remember the example we discussed at the very beginning of this blog? The very idea was frustrating, right? Instead, we emphasize web designing with simplicity and ease of use in mind. Take, for example, Google’s homepage. It’s clean, with a single search bar and minimal distractions. This design encourages users to quickly find what they need without any unnecessary effort. (Also, the occasional doodles are even more eye-catching this way!)

The Principle of Perpetual Habit

Have you noticed how most e-commerce websites have a similar layout? They often place the shopping cart icon in the top right corner and display product categories on the left. Amazon is a prime example of sticking to familiar layouts, making it easy for users to browse and shop effortlessly due to their perpetual exposure to such designs.

The Principle of Socialization

Social media on its own is a huge example of this, but this is also why many websites and apps will prompt you to connect your social media accounts to your profile on their website.  It’s all about creating a sense of belonging and community among users. When you connect your social media accounts to a website or app, you unlock a world of opportunities to share your experiences with your friends and followers. 

The Principle of Emotional Contagion

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal, and it is the most effective in evoking emotions. As a UI/UX designer you may feel that there’s not much you can add here, but here’s what you can do: ensure the use of brand colors, real-life experiences people have shared with your products, and impressive visuals of your offerings. Also, make sure to let users know their actions are acknowledged with simple messages like “Picture saved successfully” or “Request sent”. Lastly, remember to ask for feedback!

The Principle of Identity

As mentioned, brand identity is vital in establishing a connection with users. Apple’s website, for instance, is a testament to its brand identity and user-centric approach. With its minimalist aesthetic and simple colors, the website mirrors the same experience users can expect from their products. This consistency fosters a strong sense of association and loyalty among Apple’s customers. The moment users land on their website, they instantly recognize the brand and feel a connection that goes beyond just a transactional relationship. It’s a powerful example of the impact of brand identity. 

The Principle of Beauty

“The first impression is the last impression,” and in the world of websites, aesthetics are the key to unlocking a remarkable user experience. The aesthetics of a website play the most important role – the visual appeal can make or break the user experience. The right design choices may land you customers for life! 


It’s essential to understand the impact and need of user-centric UX design that prioritizes the fundamentals of cognitive psychology in crafting interfaces that work for users. Whether or not you have a background in psychology, these principles serve as valuable guidelines to formulate intuitive, efficient, and delightful web experiences. With the right understanding of user behavior, designers can create a positive and lasting impression on users to truly stand out in the digital landscape. So, let’s embrace the art of understanding each other and create remarkable experiences together! 

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