The Psychology of Web Design

psychology of web design

Your website design is impacted by so much more than just the content you share. If you’ve spent the time and money on marketing and SEO for your website, you also want it to have the right look to appeal to your visitors. Once a person has landed on your website, what they see will start to elicit some feelings from them, consciously or subconsciously. And these feelings toward your website come from how you choose to make your website look and how comfortable it feels.

Think of your website as a home. When a new friend comes over to visit your home for the first time, you want them to feel comfortable, relaxed, and invited. You don’t want them to feel uncomfortable, frustrated, or overwhelmed. They should be able to sit back and relax while they enjoy their time there. Why should your website be any different? There’s a psychological aspect behind the design of your website, and Virtual Market Advantage will take a look at how you can tap into the psychology of web design now!


The content you share and how you share it is the first step in good web design. With the early stages of the web, it seemed like everyone was slamming pages and pages of bare information down your throat. No design was needed, as long as the information was there.

With the modern Internet of today, there can be and usually is a happy medium for getting people enough great content while providing them with great design as well. You want your visitors to have the right amount of information without overwhelming them. They need to be able to easily pick out the information that’s most important and relevant to them. The tone of your content, as well as the layout and ease of finding it, set the tone for your business. Give the viewers enough information to be satisfied, while instilling trust and inspiring repeat visits.


After you’ve created your content, you need to be aware of how it’s placed on your website. This goes for everything from graphics to written words. Think minimalist when placing your content. You want what’s called ‘white space’ in your design. White space doesn’t necessarily need to be the color white; it’s a term for blank space, whether it’s white, black, gray, or a more vibrant color. This blank area on your webpage gives visitors a place to rest their eyes. Websites that don’t include any white space often feel crowded, disorganized, and off-putting. Your content needs to be well organized and easily found.

If a visitor comes to your site and it’s loaded with graphics, words, and something in every corner of the page, they will get overwhelmed and most likely leave. It looks cheap and spammy. By taking the time to create white space in margins and between graphics and really giving your content some elegant simplicity, you will convey to visitors that you are professional and organized. This will also give good vibes to those visiting your site, and they’ll want to spend time looking around, buying your product, and interacting with you.


In most cases, you’ll see the base color of a website mirror the business's logo and brand color. That’s a fine policy, but keep in mind that how a business uses colors on their website will determine how well it’s received.

Depending on the hue, there are mild psychological effects of colors on how people feel. If you use cooler colors on your site like blues, greens, or purples, you will invoke a more inviting, professional, and relaxed feel. On the flip side, if you use warmer colors like reds, yellows, or oranges, it can give an energetic, warm, and creative feel to the website. There are negative vibes to these colors as well, so you need to be careful about how you use them and how much you use them around your site. How the colors make visitors feel will depend on the hue of the color, the brightness, and the tint. It also depends on how much color you use and which combinations of color are provided. Making sure you have all these aspects working together with your colors scheme can ensure that you have an inviting and professional feel to your website.

Here are some general feelings and responses people tend to have towards particular colors, both positive and negative, depending on the context:

Red – urgency, excitement, energy, stress, danger, aggression

Orange – urgency, confidence, energy, frustration, immaturity, sluggishness

Yellow – cheerfulness, optimism, extroversion, caution, anxiety, fear

Green – health, wealth, nature, boredom, envy, sickness

Blue - peace, reliability, trust, coldness, emotionless, unfriendly

Purple – wisdom, respect, beauty, creativity, excess, moodiness

Gray – practical, reliable, aged, depression

Black – sophistication, elegance, authority, menace, mourning, coldness

White – purity, simplicity, cleanliness, emptiness, plain

You will see most sites use a set of neutral colors to offset the brighter branding colors. These could be variations of black, white, beige, or gray. Which of these neutrals to use would depend on your branding colors. The neutrals will be used in areas of white space or as the page color that all content and graphics are displayed on.


Now that you have your content, organization, and colors figured out, it’s time to look at the font you’ll use on your website. Typefaces are selected and used based on how you want to portray your information. For example, Serif fonts are often associated with professionalism, seriousness, and being scholarly. The San-Serif fonts, like Helvetica, are more modern, clean, and informal. Tech brands tend to use more geometric fonts, while fashion brands go for more sweeping styles. An interesting tendency over the past few decades is that banks have gone from more authoritarian, cold-looking fonts to more informal, welcoming ones, most likely as a response to financial crises and growing distrust among their customers.

The font you choose and how you use it on your site will determine how your business and website is looked at by those who view it. There are thousands of fonts out there, some free and some that will cost money. There are even resources that help you design your own! It can seem like a daunting task to pick a font with so many options. Just think about what kind of feeling you want to portray through your words, and try a few options. You can always survey customers to see how they respond. You can also take a glance at the competition to see what kinds of font shapes they’re using. You may learn more about what you do (and don’t) want to use.

How you present the typeface is also important. You want it to have enough spacing so that a person’s eyes don’t get easily tired and the words get stuck together, so make sure your paragraphs are spaced well. You also don’t want the font to be too big or too small. Font size is important, because you don’t want the visitor to feel like you are yelling or whispering.

Overall, you want your website to be clean, professional, and informative. Making sure you have these features in place when designing your website will ensure that visitors will not only stick around, but will also likely come back and tell others about it. The psychology of web design can help you build trust with your customers and make them feel welcome to sit back and stay awhile.

If you want more information on web design, check out VMA's blog on responsive website design here!