Just like colors and fonts, there is a psychology of shapes that influences our minds. The use of circles, squares, rounded corners, half moon shapes… they all matter. They all send non-verbal messages to our minds, which mean that we perceive several messages even before we have read a single word on the design.
Together, colors, fonts and shapes make the troika of design. If we comprehend the psychological effects of these three elements, we will consistently make foolproof designs.
We have already shared articles on font psychology and color psychology, this is the third article of that series and soon we’ll be sharing a whole ebook dedicated to the science of non-verbal communication in design.
I will try to keep this article quick and simple. If you have any question, feedback, suggestion or anything else, please use the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.
So let’s go through each of the shape.
Psychology of Shapes
First I’ll be talking about the basic mathematical shapes. The knowledge I’ll share about them are determined through experiments.
I will also be discussing rounded corners versus sharp corners and such topics… I couldn’t find any scientific researches for them so they are my own observation, therefore you should feel free to challenge that part and share your observation.
Circles – Ellipses – Ovals
Psychological Factors: comfort, sensuality, completeness, continuity, perfection and love.
Circles are considered to be the feminine shape. They convey positive non-verbal messages and they work great on designs where you have to portray partnership, calmness or perfection.
Rectangle based logos and other designs go with fashion and style, arts and design, and food.
Rectangles – Squares
Psychological Factors: power, balance, reliability, precision, security and logic.
These are masculine shapes, and they represent the same kind of emotions. Rectangles can be tricky to use because they do create bold impact but they can look like shouting. They can look edgy.
Rectangular logos and designs work charms for designs related to construction and housing, technology and government.
Psychological Factors: progress, ambition, science, practicality, balance, professionalism.
Triangles are not the easiest of shapes to work with but once you get hold of them, you will be using them more often than you think. The good thing about them is that they are complimentary shapes. They fit with ellipses as well as rectangles.
Predominantly they are masculine shapes but they fit with any color scheme except blue and grey.
Triangle based logos and designs fit perfectly with finance industry and any other industry where you have to portray growth.
Vertical Straight Lines
Psychological Factors: progress, aggression, power and dominance.
Vertical lines are considered to be masculine in nature. They represent ambition, strength and growth. So they can be used in designs related to finance, construction, government etc.
Horizontal Straight Lines
Psychological Factors: continuity, innocence, tranquility, silence, laziness.
Feminine in nature, horizontal lines look superb on designs related to travel and fitness. Horizontal lines work charms with designs that base on ellipses.
Now let’s talk about mixing shapes.
Round Corners vs. Sharp Corners
When iPhone created the round cornered design, it created hype. The debate still goes on whether round corners are better than sharp corners or not.
Actually the whole debate is wrong. It’s all about psychology of shapes. Round corners suit everyone. The rectangular design comprises the boldness while round corners add the softness. Sharp corners, on the other hand are the choice of a niche. Usually, only men like sharp cornered phones. They are the choice of a niche of public who wants to make their presence felt.
Sharp curves, corners and edges make the design full of impact, but tense. Soft rounded curves, corners and edges give the design peaceful look.
Now you know what emotional range each shape contains… but you must also remember that you can only exploit these non-verbal messages to their fullest extent if you use them coherently with font psychology and color psychology. If you make soft shapes and use hard fonts… no good can come out of it.
I’m anxiously awaiting your feedback. Please use the comments section below. Thanks.