Colorful shapes build individual persons and one animal, a cat. Placed close together and overlapping, they form an image of a group of people. Individual shapes are not distinctly visible anymore.
Colorful shapes build individual persons and one animal, a cat. Placed close together and overlapping, they form an image of a group of people. Individual shapes are not distinctly visible anymore.

Why Gestalt theory matters in UX design

3 principles that serve information architecture

Eva Schicker
7 min readOct 25, 2022

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Gestalt is a strange word in English. It is borrowed from German, like Fahrvergnügen*, or Zeitgeist**, to explain the principle of human perception and visual processing.

The term Gestalt has been formulated in the early 19th century in the field of psychology. It is often used by psychologists to describe how we humans apprehend the world around us as whole structures or entities, and not as the billions of particles that it actually consists of.[1]

In this example, we perceive the shapes as one unit, that of a figure, or robot. In fact, it is a composition of ten squares with rounded corners a various curvatures. Thus, our eyes don’t see individual shapes, and we don’t describe it as “ten yellow shapes close together”, but rather as “I see a person”.
In this example, we perceive the shapes as one unit, that of a figure, or robot. In fact, it is a composition of ten squares with rounded corners a various curvatures. Thus, our eyes don’t see individual shapes, and we don’t describe it as “ten yellow shapes close together”, but rather as “I see a person”.

Our brains cannot process all the tiny and microscopic details that present themselves, rather, we clump them into structures and patterns to formulate a whole.

So for instance, when we see a red rose, we don’t count the petals, or the number of stamens (the inner protruding stems that hold pollen), but we smell the rose, comment on its color, and make a note of how we are feeling happy, of experiencing something beautiful, and sometimes, we might even experience that a rose also comes with thorns.[2]

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Eva Schicker

Hello. I write about UX, UI, AI, animation, tech, fiction & art through the eyes of a designer & painter. I live in NYC. Book author, UX Grad GA NYC.