The psychology of Web design

How colors, typefaces and spacing affect your mood

A great website design is so much more than just delivering content and making it look good. When visitors come to your site, they produce a set of feelings about your website and your organization. The type of feelings they produce – positive or negative – are entirely in your hands and should not be overlooked when designing content.

Below are four major areas of website design and development that have the biggest impacts on the psychology of website visitors.


For websites, content drives the design you see on screen. Visitors come to a website to access information they need.
Design helps them find the information they need quickly and with ease.

In the early days of the Web, it was common to see pages and pages slammed with content, often pages with 10,000 words or more (as a comparison, this article is about 1,600 words).

With today’s Web, content should be edited and organized so that there is a happy medium between providing adequate and needed information while not overwhelming visitors. When content is in that happy place, visitors are able to find the information quickly and they feel good afterwards.

Keep your content clean, organized, easy to read, concise, and professional to help aid in the psychology of your visitors and produce positive vibes.


The way a Web page is organized can dramatically affect how a visitor feels while they are there. Organizing content should be a priority in any website design, but this organization should take into consideration the space it takes up on the site.
The concept of minimalism – that is, using the least amount of visual content needed to convey your point or idea – is currently very popular across the Web.

Said differently, if a visitor comes to your website and every inch of real estate on the screen is taken up by words, graphics, blinking things, etc., it starts to feel chaotic and makes them uneasy. If no white space is present, there is nothing for them to move their eyes to take a visual break.


When designing a website, often the colors are dictated by the organization’s new or existing visual identity (or brand). But how these colors are used affects how the visitor feels when they visit your site.


Most visual identities have neutral colors (i.e the tints, shades, and hues of whites, grays, and blacks) that are used along with their main colors. In most modern designs, these neutral colors often take dominance in terms of how much real estate they take up.


Finally, typography can convey tons of emotions and feelings for visitors to your website. There are thousands of typefaces out there, and thanks to advancing Web technology such as CSS3, these typefaces have found their way onto websites as well.

Typefaces are designed to be used in specific situations and for certain uses. Serif fonts (those with little serifs, or feet, on the letters like Times New Roman) are often associated with professionalism, scholarly, and seriousness, while san-serif fonts (like Helvetica) are a bit more modern feeling, clean and more informal.

The way type is presented on the page is also important. Leading (space between the lines) and kerning (space between the letters) should be evaluated as well. Large leading with lots of white space between lines makes the copy feel airier and easier to read; little leading gives a crowded feeling and is hard to read more than one paragraph at a time.

Tight paragraphs are uninviting and hard to read, copy that is too close to elements such as pictures make the page feel crowded, and too large or too small font size will either make the visitor feel like you are screaming at them or whispering.