Jungian psychology contends that both our conscious minds and our unconscious selves are perched atop a pile of drives, traits and inclinations common to our shared species. These archetypes are often mysterious to us, yet they hold incredible sway over our actions, and one of the main goals of Jungian therapy is to help people better understand their deeper selves so that they might become more well-rounded individuals.
Notably, Jung set out four major archetypes that must be brought together and placed into context for us to become psychologically healthier, and (quite remarkably) each one has meaningful value when considered in relation to web design elements. After all, web design is all about communicating information in an effective and compelling way — an understanding of basic psychology makes it possible to drastically improve this process.
Here’s how you can learn from each of these four archetypes to boost your brand’s web design:
Cater To Growth Of The Self
The self is everything unique to a person, both consciously and subconsciously, and the primary drive of the self is to live most fully — to grow, experience, delight, love, and be a part of humanity. This is of vital importance in web design, because it underpins everything we do. All the choices we make, and all the actions we take.
When you design your web content, think about how you can cater to the self. How will your website help someone live more fully? Will it inspire them? Entertain them? And if you simply sell products, then remember the old sales trick of focussing on the benefits instead of the features. People don’t really care about the specific size of the TVs they buy: they care about how it feels to watch a big TV — how it fills up their senses and makes them feel successful.
Play Upon The Shadow
The shadow encompasses all the things about ourselves that we try to repress or hide. The desires we keep secret, the personal failings that we try to ignore, and the fears that we pretend don’t exist. One of the main drives of Jungian psychology is to encourage a patient to integrate their self with their shadow — to accept those things about themselves that worry them.
And while it’s tricky to directly play upon these things in your web design, it’s often effective simply to allude to them with your copy. Providing an FAQ is great, for instance, because you can include answers to any questions you feel like without giving the impression of presuming that any given visitor wants a specific question answered. If there’s something people might be afraid to ask for being thought strange, you can work it in that way.
Understand The Persona
The persona is the thing you project to other people — the idealized version of you with the flaws removed and an unimpeachable air of confidence. It isn’t real. When you’re alone, or around someone you trust deeply, you let the persona slip and show who you really are. Eventually, a goal of Jungian psychology is to see the patient recognize their persona and relegate it to a position of diminished importance.
In your web design, you must think about both the persona and the self. What a visitor says they care about might not be what they actually care about. If you carry out a survey, for instance, you might find that very few people admit to having difficulties navigating their site, even though your internal metrics suggest that many people have issues — people will lie rather than feel embarrassed about problems like that. So always consider the context of the feedback you receive, and tweak your designs based on people’s actions more than their words (oh, and be sure to include a great sitemap so people won’t get lost).
Enable The Anima And The Animus
There are things about ourselves that we’re not inherently ashamed of or inclined to hide but we choose to hide for the sake of how we’re perceived. Jung described the anima as the femininity of a man, and the animus as the masculinity of a woman, with each side encouraged to keep those elements subdued despite their vital role in creativity. Online, this is a matter of providing options without presumption.
The better you’re able to support people in doing whatever they want to do, regardless of how it may be perceived by wider society, the more attached they’ll become to your brand. This is clearly evidenced by the success of brands such as Cole & Coddle: it doesn’t do anything special from a practical standpoint, using dropshipping to sell generic products, but by striking at the playful male parental instinct (often bizarrely thought of as “feminine”) it has reached the point of being listed for sale at nearly $500k on an online business marketplace.
The lesson? Don’t think “men will want this type of thing” or “women will want this type of thing” unless you have compelling evidence to support it: instead, allow your website’s visitors to decide for themselves what they want to look at (and customize the interface accordingly).
Jungian psychology is all about diving into the main patterns that drive our thoughts, interactions, and choices, and the more you understand about how people think, the better you can optimize your content to entertain, inform and convince them.
Main Image credit: Arturo Espinosa