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Gestalt Principles for Effective UX Writing: Tips and Examples

February 26, 202315 min read

Hey there! Today, let’s talk about Gestalt principles for UX writing. These principles are a set of guidelines that help us understand how humans perceive and process visual information. But did you know that these principles can also be applied to UX copywriting? That’s right! Let’s take a look at some examples of good and bad UX copy using Gestalt principles.

The Gestalt Principles, also known as the laws of perceptual organization, were first introduced by German psychologists Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Köhler in the early 20th century. The word “Gestalt” comes from the German word for “shape” or “form”, and the principles describe how humans perceive and organize visual information.

The Gestalt Principles have since been applied to a wide range of fields, including graphic design, psychology, and user experience (UX) design. In UX design, the principles are used to create interfaces and interactions that are easy to understand and use, and that provides a seamless user experience.

The principles are based on the idea that humans tend to perceive objects as a whole, rather than as individual parts. For example, when looking at a face, we don’t see it as a collection of eyes, nose, and mouth, but as a complete face. This idea is known as the principle of “holism”.

The Gestalt Principles provide a set of guidelines for how humans perceive and organize visual information, and they can be used to create designs that are aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand. In UX design, the principles are used to create interfaces and interactions that are intuitive and user-friendly.

Some examples of how the Gestalt Principles are used in UX design include:

  • The principle of proximity is used to group related elements together, making it easier for users to understand the relationships between them.
  • The principle of similarity is used to create a visual hierarchy, with more important elements standing out from less important ones.
  • The principle of figure/ground is used to highlight important information and make it stand out from the background.
  • The principle of simplicity is used to create copy that is concise and easy to understand, making it easier for users to navigate through an interface.

By understanding and applying the Gestalt Principles to UX design, designers can create interfaces and interactions that are not only visually appealing but also easy to use and understand.


Proximity

The principle of proximity states that objects that are close together are perceived as a group. This principle can be applied to UX writing by grouping together related information.

  • Good example: “Your password must be at least 8 characters long and include a combination of letters and numbers.”
  • Bad example: “Your password must be at least 8 characters long. Don’t forget to include a combination of letters and numbers!”

In a good example, the length requirement and the requirement for letters and numbers are grouped together, making it easier for users to understand the requirements. In the bad example, the two requirements are separated, making it harder for users to connect the two pieces of information.


Similarity

The principle of similarity states that objects that are similar in shape, color, or texture are perceived as a group. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using consistent language and formatting.

  • Good example: “Click here to submit your payment” and “Click here to cancel your payment.”
  • Bad example: “Submit payment” and “Cancel payment.”

In the good example, the language and formatting are consistent, making it clear that these are two separate actions. In the bad example, the language is not consistent, making it harder for users to distinguish between the two actions.


Continuity

The principle of continuity states that objects that are arranged in a straight line or smooth curve are perceived as a group. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using a clear and logical flow of information.

  • Good example: “First, select your desired destination. Next, choose your travel dates. Finally, review your booking details and confirm your reservation.”
  • Bad example: “Choose your travel dates. Review your booking details. Select your desired destination. Confirm your reservation.”

In the good example, the information is presented in a logical and sequential order, making it easy for users to follow along. In the bad example, the information is presented randomly, making it harder for users to understand the process.


Closure

The principle of closure states that humans tend to perceive incomplete objects as complete based on context. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using suggestive language that implies completion.

  • Good example: “Congratulations! Your account setup is complete.”
  • Bad example: “Thanks for signing up. Check your email for a confirmation link.”

In the good example, the language implies that the setup process has been completed, giving users a sense of accomplishment. In the bad example, the language does not imply completion, making it unclear what the next steps are.


Figure/Ground

The principle of figure/ground states that humans tend to distinguish between an object and its background. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using contrasting colors or fonts to highlight important information.

  • Good example: “Your order has been shipped! Click here to track your package.”
  • Bad example: “Your order has been shipped! To track your package, click here.”

In the good example, the important call-to-action (CTA) is highlighted in a different color, making it stand out from the rest of the text. In the bad example, the CTA is not highlighted, making it harder for users to find the next step.


Symmetry

The principle of symmetry states that humans tend to perceive objects as symmetrical and balanced. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using a balanced sentence structure.

  • Good example: “Our app is fast, easy to use, and packed with features.”
  • Bad example: “Our app is fast, easy to use, and has lots of features packed into it.”

In the good example, the sentence structure is balanced, making it easier for users to follow along. In the bad example, the sentence structure is uneven, making it harder for users to read.


Common Fate

The principle of common fate states that objects that move in the same direction or have the same function are perceived as a group. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using language that connects related information.

  • Good example: “To change your password, click on ‘Settings’ and then select ‘Security.'”
  • Bad example: “To change your password, go to ‘Settings.’ You can also update your security settings there.”

In the good example, the language connects the two steps, making it clear that they are related. In the bad example, the language separates the two steps, making it harder for users to understand the process.


Proportion

The principle of proportion states that humans tend to perceive objects in relation to one another. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using language that provides context and perspective.

  • Good example: “You’ve completed 50% of your profile setup. Just a few more steps to go!”
  • Bad example: “You’ve completed half of your profile setup. Keep going!”

In the good example, the language provides specific information about the user’s progress, giving them a sense of accomplishment and motivation to finish. In the bad example, the language is vague and generic, making it harder for users to understand their progress.


Common Region

The principle of common region states that humans tend to group objects that are in the same area or region. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using language that groups related information together.

  • Good example: “Your account balance is $50. To add funds, click on the ‘Add Funds’ button.”
  • Bad example: “Your account balance is $50. Click on the ‘Add Funds’ button to add funds.”

In the good example, the language groups the related information (account balance and adding funds) together, making it easier for users to understand the next steps. In the bad example, the language separates the related information, making it harder for users to connect the dots.


Simplicity

The principle of simplicity states that humans tend to prefer simple and straightforward information. This principle can be applied to UX writing by using language that is concise and easy to understand.

  • Good example: “Enter your email address to sign up for our newsletter.”
  • Bad example: “Please provide us with your email address so that you can receive our newsletter.”

In the good example, the language is concise and straightforward, making it easy for users to understand the next step. In the bad example, the language is wordy and formal, making it harder for users to understand the request.

By applying these Gestalt principles to UX writing, we can create copy that is not only visually appealing but also clear, concise, and easy to understand. Remember, the ultimate goal of UX writing is to create a seamless and enjoyable user experience. Happy writing!


Gestalt Principles for Effective UX Writing FAQ

What are the Gestalt Principles?

The Gestalt Principles are a set of guidelines for how humans perceive and organize visual information. They are used in UX design to create interfaces and interactions that are easy to understand and use.

How can the Gestalt Principles be applied to UX writing?

The Gestalt Principles can be applied to UX writing by using language that is clear, concise, and easy to understand, and by grouping related information together.

What are some examples of how the Gestalt Principles are used in UX design?

The Gestalt Principles are used to create a visual hierarchy, group related elements together, highlight important information, and create copy that is concise and easy to understand.

Why is effective UX writing important?

Effective UX writing is important because it can make the difference between a frustrating and confusing user experience and a seamless and enjoyable one. Good UX writing can help users understand how to use a product or service, and can make them feel more confident and satisfied with their experience.

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Sander B.

Tech enthusiast and avid learner. Passionate about exploring new trends and sharing my knowledge with others. Always on the lookout for new opportunities to grow and improve. Putting the 'pro' in prose 📝 and the 'fun' in puns 🤣 #CopywritingAndComedy

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