The psychology of image and colour in UI

There is a lot of research to suggest changes in imagery and colour palettes have a big impact on user engagement. Chances are, you were drawn to this post because of the warm, vibrant thumbnail image. In an eye-tracking test, where the movement of users eyes are precisely followed when browsing a website for app,  the results show that the first thing they look at are often images and in particular, faces. Although the results of different images vary between genders, consistent results show that adding more imagery in general boosts engagement and creates a more comfortable experience. People find images much more appealing to long blocks of text which can take much longer to understand or interpret. 

In this video from Vox's series By Design,  they look at the issues of smartphone addiction and what design tricks are employed by companies to get users to look at their phones for longer. Research in this video shows that to reduce the addictiveness of smartphones,  changing the phone settings to grayscale can have a significant impact as we are very easily distracted by bright colours. Notification icons are red to draw the most amount of attention possible, and many companies have rebranded to include bolder and more vibrant colours shown below in the icons for Instagram, Airbnb and Google.


In the eye-tracking tests shown below, users eyes were drawn towards the brighter, warmer colours such as purple, reds and oranges and spent considerably less time looking at blues and greens. When designing interfaces, this is important to consider as an interface with cooler colours may not look as engaging to users.  This research can be manipulated toby web designers to draw attention to specific parts of a page or certain features.

FMP, Context, UALAdam Marsh