How Psychophysics Informs Effective Website Design
Mike Darnell
March 2023

In today’s digital age, website design and digital marketing play a crucial role in the success of any business. The design of a website or marketing materials can have a significant impact on how users perceive and interact with a brand. However, creating effective designs is not just about aesthetics. Understanding the principles of psychophysics can help designers and marketers optimize their work for user engagement and conversion.

What is Psychophysics?

Psychophysics is the scientific study of the relationship between physical stimuli and our perception of them. It is a branch of psychology that seeks to understand how our senses and brain work together to interpret the world around us. Psychophysicists study how we perceive stimuli such as light, sound, and touch, and how these perceptions influence our behavior.

The field of psychophysics has been around for over a century, and its principles have been applied in various fields, including website design and digital marketing.

How Psychophysics Informs Website Design

Website design is all about creating an experience for users that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The design of a website can impact a user’s perception of a brand, as well as their behavior on the site. Understanding how users perceive websites is essential to creating effective designs.


Color is one aspect of website design that is heavily influenced by psychophysics. Different colors can evoke different emotions and perceptions in users. For example, warm colors like red and orange can create a sense of urgency, while cool colors like blue and green can create a sense of calmness. Choosing the right colors for a website can help create the desired emotional response in users and lead to increased engagement and conversion.


Contrast is another important factor in website design that is influenced by psychophysics. Contrast refers to the difference between two colors or tones in a design. High contrast can create a sense of emphasis or urgency, while low contrast can create a sense of calmness or subtlety. Using contrast strategically can help guide a user’s attention to important elements on a website and lead to increased engagement.

Visual complexity

Visual complexity is also a factor in website design that is influenced by psychophysics. Visual complexity refers to the amount of visual information present in a design. A highly complex design can be overwhelming and lead to less engagement, while a simple design can lead to increased engagement because it is more easily processed by the brain.
Using white space and simple design elements can help create a more user-friendly experience and lead to increased engagement, by reducing the perceived complexity of the page.

Simplifying website design reduces Decision Fatigue

Furthermore, reducing visual clutter and the number of clickable elements in a webpage design can help to alleviate the dilemma of choice for users. When users are presented with too many options or are bombarded with too much information, they may become overwhelmed and not be able to make a decision. This is called decision fatigue. By reducing the number of clickable elements and making the design of a page easier, users can more easily navigate the page and make informed decisions. This not only improves their user experience but also reduces their overall cognitive load, allowing them to make decisions with greater ease and confidence. As a result, reducing visual clutter and the number of clickable elements can enhance the effectiveness of a webpage design and improve user satisfaction.


The language used in your website and digital marketing materials can impact users’ perception of a brand and influence their behavior. Use language that resonates with your target audience and creates a sense of urgency or exclusivity. Phrases like “limited time offer” or “exclusive access” help create a sense of urgency and encourage users to take action by leveraging Scarcity Biasing – The cognitive bias that leads people to assign greater value to a resource that is perceived as scarce or limited in availability.

Psychophysics applied to website work – Examples from our portfolio


Alcami, a plastic converting company with manufacturing facilities in Thailand and the Philippines, has a homepage that uses the color to draw users’ attention to the company’s key services. The brand guidelines and palette allow for the use of a high-contrast black and orange theme, which not only helps create a sense of visual interest and emphasis, but also leverages an association to the world of tools, industry, etc.


Kirloskar, one of the world’s oldest and largest manufacturers of industrial pumps, operates the brand. The brand’s homepage is an example of how we can leverage language to increase users’ engagement with our website. In this case, the call-to-action button invites users to “Talk to an engineer”, and so further aligns the site towards the intended target audience – building and facility managers, and individuals in similar operational roles.


The homepage for Thailand’s largest homegrown construction conglomerate features a simple and clean design, with a large hero video and a single quote. The use of high-quality images and video, clear typography, and simple layouts helps draw users’ attention and creates a sense of visual appeal, which, thanks to the Halo Effect, makes them more likely to not only explore the site, but also develop a positive outlook on Ritta as a company.


Designers and marketers that develop an awareness for the principles of psychophysics create more effective website designs and digital marketing materials that are more likely to engage users and drive conversions.
Using principles such as color, contrast, visual complexity, and language, designers and marketers create campaigns that appeal to users’ senses and emotions and influence their behavior.
Examples such as and demonstrate how psychophysics can be used to create powerful and engaging websites. By leveraging psychophysics principles in your work, you’ll create more impactful marketing materials that will better connect with your target audiences and achieve your marketing goals.

As digital marketing continues to evolve, and AI takes a larger role in execution, designers and marketers must gravitate more and more towards a better understanding of the latest research and principles in psychology and user experience, where they can still add value.
In conclusion, designers and marketers should prioritize understanding the principles of psychophysics in their work to create effective and engaging digital marketing campaigns that drive conversions and deliver results.


  1. Oliva, A., & Torralba, A. (2007). The role of context in object recognition. Trends in cognitive sciences, 11(12), 520-527. doi:
  2. Tractinsky, N., Katz, A. S., & Ikar, D. (2000). What is beautiful is usable. Interacting with Computers, 13(2), 127-145. doi:
  3. Lindgaard, G., Fernandes, G., Dudek, C., & Brown, J. (2006). Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression! Behaviour & Information Technology, 25(2), 115-126. doi:
  4. Photo by Karlis Reimanis on Unsplash

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