Big Ideas User Experience

The Heuristics of Neurodesign

By Andrés Zapata \ October 31, 2022

Exactly how the mind works is still largely a mystery. And as with most mysteries, there are clues that give resolution to the interworking of how we think. How we think involves a swarm of highly interrelated mental processes including attention, memory, and thinking.

What the heck is a heuristic?

On the shoulders of giants

  • Be consistent
  • Don’t make users have to remember information
  • Don’t make users have to “figure out” your interface
  • Give users shortcuts
  • Give users the ability to back out of decisions
  • Be true to the system(s) your interface will be used on
  • Keep it simple
  • Provide help that focuses on efficiently solving users’ problems
  • Write for the user, not the system or yourself
  • Visual design should enhance, not obscure
  • Always consider the user’s context
  • Users will do things you don’t anticipate. Don’t let their actions break the system.


Neurodesign basics:



Use images of human faces to direct attention and elicit emotion.

  • We’re wired to see faces first. the face’s emotion transfers to the viewer. And we’ll gaze in the direction they gaze.
  • Are you using images of people?
  • Are the people’s emotions appropriate for the brand and intent?
  • Are they looking at the CTA or other critical information?


Use brightness to convey relevance.

  • Bright green will pull the eye more than dull red. Luminosity, not hue, is what’s most important to acquire gaze.
  • Are there bright elements that don’t need to be bright (unimportant)?
  • Are there competing bright elements?
  • Are the CTA’s brighter than other elements in the design?


Group data to quickly establish relationships between visible elements.

  • Is related content and functionality clustered together?
  • Are visual vocabularies consistently used?
  • Is there a clear foreground and background?
  • Are related design objects visually and uniformly connected?
  • Is symmetry used to unify elements> Is dissymmetry used to create focal points?


Users see movement first, but overuse can mute its effect.

  • Does the design have a few minimal micro-interactions to pull the eye?
  • Are micro-interactions competing with each other or the design?
  • Do the micro-interactions communicate feedback or intent of function?

The bigger picture:

Andrés Zapata
Andrés Zapata

Andrés isn’t like most founders. He’s responsible for the operations and direction of idfive, but he’s also the door-always-open, huevos-rancheros-making leader who’ll help you when the wifi isn’t working. A lifetime learner and multifaceted professional, Andrés has nearly 30 years of experience leading projects for clients in various industries. He believes in the power of research and data to create something beautiful that can do something good.