5 Ways Applying Psychology to Your Work Can Improve Your Designs

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Design Psychology
Photo via Envato Elements

Why applying psychology to your work is important in graphic design

Understanding psychology is an important part of how we interact with others. Applying psychology to your work is no different, especially if you're a graphic designer.

Consider, for instance, how you communicate with the people around you. Are your conversations with colleagues the same as your interactions with your parents? What about your close friends?

Chances are, you adapt based on your company; you understand how your behavior can affect those around you. In this way, you're already letting psychology guide your actions. Your designs require the same care and consideration.

During the creative process, it's important to consider how your choices can affect your clients, your audience, and yourself. In this article, we'll discuss some ways applying psychology to your work can make you a better designer.

1. Understanding your target demographic can guide your designs

If you were hired to design a spread for a children's magazine, you would probably use bright colors and quirky characters, right? After all, you want to get kids' attention, and in the right way.

You wouldn't design a frightening illustration, because it's not your target demographic. But what if you were designing for female Baby Boomers? What about male Millennials? What is appropriate for these demographics?

This is where research becomes a necessary aspect to your job. Social media, forums, and polls are great resources to find information on your target demographic. Once you have that information, you can begin to cater your work accordingly.

2. Considering your clients' feelings can encourage good rapport

All clients are different. You may work with someone who gels with you every step of the way. Alternatively, you may have someone who disagrees with all your creative choices.

While you shouldn't allow yourself to be bullied, good social skills are crucial when it comes to amicable interactions. Skills like linguistic empathy and conflict resolution are extremely important when it comes to those different from you.

For instance, you may have a defensive or antagonistic client. Instead of blowing up, consider reasons they may be upset. Study various personality types as well as how to interact with those varying personalities. Applying this type of psychology to your interactions will promote a healthier experience.

3. Understanding the emotional impact of your art may prevent mistakes

As a designer, it's important to have your own style and brand. While this can promote your business, it's still important to consider the feelings of those who may come into contact with your work.

Graphic design often plays directly into advertising; therefore, your images may be seen by a number of eyes. While you shouldn't dilute your style, it's important to consider the emotional and social effects of your art.

Could your designs be considered insensitive? Tone-deaf? Read and listen to varying points of view; not all opinions will be right, but many of them could improve your designs on the whole.

4. Using emotion-based colors can improve your designs

You may have heard how strongly our emotions are tied to colors. Ever wonder why your favorite fast food chain uses so much red? We associate red with strong feelings, like passion and excitement. Wonder why your social media platforms use so much blue? Blue is trustworthy and inviting.

As you're creating your next project, consider what emotion you're trying to illicit in your viewers. Do you want them to feel lighthearted? Serious? How do the colors you're using complement the message you're trying to create?

Remember, too, that some color combinations are synonymous with holidays, countries, and traditions. The more you know about colors and their combinations, the more acutely you will be able to design.

5. Taking time to analyze yourself can lead to healthier work choices

While it's incredibly important to understand the psychology behind your designs, color schemes, and even your clients, understanding yourself is perhaps the most important step you can take in your career. Your career should be in line with your values, so it's important to consider what you personally value and how to attain that.

Because many designers are self-employed, they must make the big decisions, like whether to “break up” with a client or agree to a huge opportunity.

Only you can make these decisions for yourself. You know how a client makes you feel or how likely you are to meet a hard deadline.

If you feel great about a project, consider what made it a success and try to emulate that experience. On the other hand, if your last project was a negative experience, ask yourself why. Do your best to prevent a similar situation in the future.


You don't have to be an expert in behavioral sciences to improve your design and psychology skills. Through continuous learning, consideration, and thoughtfulness, you can begin applying psychology to your work and encourage others to do the same.