What are the 4 types of cognitive bias?
According to Buster Benson's cognitive bias codex, every time a user interacts with a product, they :
- 🙈 Filter information
- 👀 Search for meaning
- ⏰ Act within a given timeframe
- 💾 Store elements of the interaction in their memory
So, in order to offer your users a memorable experience, you need to understand the biases that affect these 4 stages of the decision cycle.
Here's a list of 109 cognitive biases (with examples and tips for each) that strongly influence your users' thinking and behavior.
PS: No time to explore the whole list? Then all you have to do is download the cheat sheet at the bottom of the page.
PS 2: The idea and structure of the page are inspired by Growth Design and Buster Benson's codex.
What is a cognitive bais?
Although people like to believe that they are rational and logical, the fact is that they are continually under the influence of cognitive biases.
The human brain is powerful, but subject to limitations. Cognitive biases are often the result of your brain's attempt to simplify information processing.
Prejudices generally function as practical rules that help you make sense of the world and make decisions relatively quickly.
Why is it important to know about the different types of cognitive bias?
As a consumer or marketer, this will help you better understand how your brain works. The more you know about cognitive biases, the better you'll be able to understand how a product/customer works.
For a consumer: it's easier to see if a company is using these principles in an unethical way.
For a marketer: it's possible to leverage these cognitive biases for your website to increase your conversion rates by enabling :
- Make your site navigation more intuitive and fluid for your visitors.
- Reduce the bounce rate (the number of visitors who leave your site before finalizing their purchases or simply before finding the information they were looking for).
It's what we call design psychology. And it's what helps you make the right design decisions for your users.
🙈 Filter information.
Users filter out much of the information they receive,
even if it is important.
It's a logical structure of elements, arranged in order of importance.
Visual hierarchy is the principle of structuring and organizing elements in order of importance.
The role of UI designers is to structure user interfaces, to make content easier and more fluid to understand.
By arranging elements logically and strategically, visual hierarchy influences users' perception and guides them towards the targeted action.
In art and web design, any area of a composition devoid of visual elements is called white space.
This white space allows the visual elements of a web page to breathe, thus contributing to visual hierarchy.
In design, the composition of an illustration or any other element on a page allows you to play with visual hierarchy.
Bringing elements together creates groups. This is known as the law of proximity.
Without these groups, it would be more difficult to understand and differentiate elements such as navigation, content or advertising.
This would make it more difficult to know where to focus attention and which elements can be ignored or not.
On the Spotify app, you can see 3 different groups.
Increasing the space between groups makes each set distinct and individual. This hierarchy enables users to identify more quickly the element with which they want to interact.
- People read from top to bottom and left to right. Organize the content of your pages in an "F" shape (blog posts) or in a "Z" shape (site pages) to make reading easier and more fluid.
- Size matters. People read what's biggest first. Make sure you make the most important elements bigger.
- Let important elements breathe. Isolated elements attract attention. Large spaces around a button make it easier for readers to see.
The time needed to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.
Hick's Law (or Hick-Hyman's Law) states that the more choices a user is presented with, the more time and effort it will take to make a decision. Named and theorized by psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman.
We all know the pain of scrolling through the endless list of Netflix content, only to find that an hour has passed.
It's not easy to make choices when you know the breadth of what's on offer in the Netflix catalog.
To help users reach quicker conclusions, Netflix recently created a new section called "Top 10 in your country", which lists content according to popularity and percentage of viewing in your region.
In this way, Netflix makes it easier to decide on the abundance of choices offered by its platform, while at the same time highlighting content approved by a large number of its users (social proof)
- Try reducing the number of options or finding ways to hide certain elements. Do they all need to be displayed at once (Progressive Disclosure)?
- If you can't reduce the number of options, try to present them in an easy-to-navigate order, and make sure the elements are familiar to the user.
Lesser desirable option makes other options more appealing.
The Decoy Effect is a strategic design technique that involves presenting a third, less desirable option to make the preferred option seem more appealing, driving users towards it.
It's like setting a "decoy" to highlight the value of the "target."
The Economist now offers three subscription options:
- Espresso for €12.90/month after a free first month,
- Digital for €29.90/month after a free first month,
- Print + Digital for €39.90/month after the first month at €20.
Notice how the Print + Digital option is positioned as a value-packed choice at just €10 more monthly compared to the Digital-only plan.
This pricing strategy subtly nudges readers towards the combined subscription, making it appear as a superior deal, effectively employing the decoy effect to enhance the perceived value of the Print + Digital option.
Here are the Amazon Prime offerings:
- A monthly Prime membership priced at $14.99
- A yearly Prime membership priced at $139
At first glance, it might look odd. Why buy a yearly membership when you can pay monthly?
When you do the math, you find that paying 12 months at $14.99 ($179.88) is significantly more expensive than the one-time annual charge of $139.
In this case, the monthly subscription serves as the decoy.
It exists to highlight the better value of the annual plan, nudging customers to opt for the "smarter choice".
Apple's iPhone pricing can illustrate the decoy effect:
- iPhone 14: $799
- iPhone 14 Pro: $999
It's a $200 difference, and yes, it's a lot for a phone. So, the idea here is to justify this price difference. But how?
Apple strategically made minimal upgrades to the iPhone 14 from the iPhone 13, subtly employing the decoy effect.
This limited enhancement in the iPhone 14 intentionally highlights the superior value of the Pro models, making the latter seem more worthwhile.
Because the real upgrade from your iPhone 13 is to get the iPhone 14 Pro.
- Start with three. Offer 3 pricing tiers to make the middle offer a clear value-for-money. It's a decoy that justifies the price leap, guiding them to the desired tier.
- Smart add-on display. Present a product's pricey add-on alongside its less expensive counterpart. This strategic placement enhances the appeal of the cheaper option, making it appear as a bargain.
- Wise comparisons matter. Utilize feature comparisons where one option is slightly inferior but significantly cheaper. This approach gently nudges consumers towards choosing the more affordable product willingly.
People are more likely to accept or pay attention to information if it seems to confirm what they think.
The fact that people are more likely to accept or perceive information if it seems to confirm what they already believe or assume. This is especially true when the situation is important or personal.
An example of confirmation bias that is both fascinating and terrifying is Google. Yes, Google...
The results of numerous studies show that search engines can reinforce confirmation bias by generating results that consist solely of evidence confirming what we assumed before our search.
"We're all vulnerable to bias. Internet search engines are the epitome of confirmation bias, and you want to use them as evidence to prove you're right?" - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson, born October 5, 1958, is an American astrophysicist, planetary scientist, author and science communicator. Educated at Harvard University, Tyson is one of the world's most popular American scientists.
- Remember to rephrase. Think carefully about what constitutes an authoritative source before doing your research.
- Cross-check your sources, don't stop at the first piece of information you find.
- Avoid asking questions that already imply a certain answer.
When faced with a set of products, we prefer the one in the middle.
The Centre-Stage Effect is a cognitive bias where items placed in the center of a display are perceived as more important or significant.
In UX design, this means that users are more likely to focus on and remember items or information positioned in the middle of a webpage or interface.
Amazon uses this principle effectively on its website.
When you browse the homepage, the 'Deal of the Day' is prominently displayed in the center.
This central placement draws user attention and increases the likelihood of the sale item being purchased.
When you open Spotify, the first thing you see isn't a random playlist — the first item that pops up in the middle of the screen is usually something the algorithm knows you'll love.
Maybe it's your "Daily Mix" of your favorite genres, or maybe it's that new album from a band you listen to a lot.
By placing these suggestions front and center, Spotify encourages users to start listening.
Apple frequently places its latest products or features in the center of its homepage.
This central positioning immediately draws users' attention to the newest offerings.
- Highlight the Hero. Draw attention to your key product, offer, or call-to-action by placing it sequentially in the center on your webpage. This prime screen real estate grabs viewer's attention first.
- Design Harmony. Surround your central element with complementary, lesser-focused items. This creates a harmony that subtly emphasizes the importance of your central item, directing user interaction.
- Use Contrast. Amplify your central element with color contrast, different shapes, or sizes. This helps it to 'pop', catching users' eyes instantly and helping them focus on your core offering.
When the information on what to do next is in the message itself.
External Triggers are cues in the user's environment prompting them to perform a behavior, often designed to bring users back to a product or service.
These triggers, like notifications, emails, or ads, work effectively when the user has a clear understanding of the action they need to take upon seeing the trigger.
These capitalize on users' attention and immediate response to visual or auditory cues.
They act as reminders or prompts that guide users toward specific actions, playing a crucial role in habit formation and user engagement.
Facebook sends notifications celebrating memories with your friends, prompting you to share a personalized video or collage.
This trigger not only brings users back to the platform but also encourages them to engage by sharing the celebration post.
Duolingo sends daily reminders to users to complete their language lessons.
These notifications act as cues to engage with the app, fostering consistent usage and aiding in the formation of a daily learning habit.
Zara sends reminders about items left in your cart and notifies you if stock is low, creating urgency.
This personalized approach not only improves the shopping experience but also converts hesitant shoppers into buyers.
Only noticing successes can make you blind to the failures.
Survivorship Bias occurs when we focus on successful outcomes, overlooking the failures.
Picture this: You're scrolling through social media and see a post about a college dropout who became a billionaire.
You think, "Wow, maybe formal education isn't that important after all." But hold on a second.
What about the countless others who dropped out and didn't strike it rich? They're not in the headlines, but they're part of the story.
That's the Survivorship Bias - the mental shortcut where we focus only on successful outcomes.
In web design, it can mean emphasizing elements that successful users interact with, neglecting potential roadblocks for others.
Airlines observe Survivorship Bias when they only pay attention to successful planes, neglecting those that suffer accidents.
During WWII, the U.S military wanted to add armor to their aircraft.
They studied planes that returned from missions and noted where they took the most bullets. They planned to add armor to these areas.
However, a statistician named Abraham Wald pointed out their Survivorship Bias.
They were only studying planes which had survived their missions despite their damage. The damage on these planes wasn't fatal.
The planes that didn't return, that they weren't studying, held the key to fatal areas to up-armor.
By overcoming Survivorship Bias, they effectively armored their planes, saving countless lives and altering the course of war.
Imagine if Netflix were to base its recommendation algorithms solely on the viewing habits of its most engaged users.
In such a scenario, the platform would only be considering the 'successful survivors,' or the most active viewers, potentially leading to skewed recommendations.
This would mean ignoring less active users and their diverse viewing preferences — these are the unseen "planes" that didn't make it back in our analogy.
In this case, a smarter approach would be to consider the viewing habits of a broader audience, including less active users, or a personalized recommendation.
This would aim to deliver more diverse and accessible content suggestions, providing a more balanced user experience.
Imagine if Amazon's product review algorithm initially favored items with lots of positive reviews.
In this case, the platform would be promoting the 'successful survivors,' or top-rated items, while sidelining lesser-known or newer products with fewer reviews.
This would mean overlooking products that, despite having fewer reviews, still had high average ratings and satisfied customers — akin to the "planes that didn't return" in the Survivorship Bias analogy.
A smart move could be to introduce something like a "Verified Purchase" tag for reviews (which is what Amazon does by the way).
This would give more weight to genuine, high-quality feedback over sheer volume, aiming to offer a more balanced showcase of products that caters to diverse consumer needs and preferences.
- Listen to the 'Quiet Ones'. Don’t solely rely on successful examples when designing your website. Also consider customers who left the site or abandoned carts and try to understand why.
- Learn from bad experiences. Conduct regular user testing and study unsuccessful interactions. Use this data to tweak your design and improve user experience.
- Don't Ditch the 'Underdogs'. Regularly re-evaluate your choices while designing. Ensure not to overlook designs or features that didn't survive in the past but could prove beneficial now.
It can be used to estimate the time needed for a user to reach a given area.
Fitts' law is a predictive model of human movement used mainly in the fields of human-computer interaction and UX.
This bias is used to predict the time required to move quickly to a target area.
Fitts' law is used to model the act of pointing, either by physically touching an object with the hand or finger, or virtually, by pointing at an object on a computer screen using a mouse.
The image below illustrates the areas where it's natural for the user to interact with the screen and those where it's much more difficult. Try it out, you'll see.
On the mobile version of a website, it's important to position your CTA at the bottom of the page, and to ensure that it takes up the full width of the page so that it's easily accessible by the user.
- Clickable elements must be large enough for users to select them accurately.
- Clickable elements must be placed in areas of the interface where they can be easily reached.
The total amount of mental effort required to accomplish a given task.
Cognitive load refers to the mental effort required to use a website.
The lower the cognitive load, the easier the site is to navigate, understand, and interact with.
For superior user experience and higher conversion rates, optimize your website to lower cognitive load — eliminate unnecessary actions, convey information clearly, and simplify decision-making processes.
Why is it important? Our brains have a limited capacity for processing information.
By reducing unnecessary elements and simplifying tasks, you make it easier for users to focus, understand, and take action.
In everyday life, the notifications we receive on our phones are a major distraction that can cause a high cognitive load, making it almost impossible to process work-related information.
Just like computers, the human brain has a limited processing capacity, when too many stimuli demand attention at the same time, it saturates.
The same goes for websites, if your website overloads their brain with information, the only way for them to get rid of it is to leave your site.
People aren't going to use a website, let alone buy a product from an e-commerce site that exhausts and confuses them.
Every website requires a certain cognitive load, but the more you minimize it, the better the user experience will be.
Google's search homepage is a masterclass in reducing cognitive load.
A simple search bar in the center, with minimal distractions.
It's clear, concise, and lets users get straight to searching.
Organizing a holiday and booking a house isn't a simple task.
There are dates to consider, amenities to look for, and budgets to stick to.
Yet, Airbnb manages to make this process feel effortless.
They guide users step-by-step, from selecting dates to making the final payment.
Each stage is presented clearly, minimizing the cognitive effort and making what could be a complex task feel straightforward and manageable.
First, you specify the destination, then check-in and check-out dates, and finally the number of guests.
Next, as you browse, the integrated map feature simplifies your search, allowing you to pinpoint your dream house in your desired location seamlessly.
Note Airbnb keeps your selected dates, location, and number of guests visible, offering the flexibility to adjust them on the fly without needing to return to the homepage each time.
Lastly, the checkout process is streamlined with your trip details prominently displayed, a clear breakdown of costs on the side, and straightforward payment options.
- Leverage common web practices. Build on existing mental models. People already have mental representations of how websites work, based on their past experiences of visiting other sites. Reuse them.
- Prioritize simplicity. Beware of over-stimulation and strip down your design to essentials only. A screen cluttered with information is nothing but chaos for the user.
- Reduce user actions. More actions = more effort for the user. Streamline processes to decrease user effort but don't compromise on clarity and comprehensibility. Aim for ease of use, not just simplicity.
Users rely heavily on the first information they see before making a decision.
Anchoring bias is the cognitive bias that leads us to rely heavily on the first piece of information we are given about a subject.
When we make predictions or estimates about something, we interpret new information from our anchoring reference point, rather than seeing it objectively.
This can distort our judgment and prevent us from updating our plans or predictions as much as we should.
A common SaaS anchoring technique is to make the most expensive subscription package (the anchor) more visible than the others (so that it is seen in first position), so that the other packages appear less expensive in comparison.
Another example from everyday life: supermarkets display their most expensive items at eye level with visible price tags, so that the item you end up looking for seems cheaper.
- Why are prices ending in 99 so popular? The explanation lies in the fact that customers cling to the number before the decimal point as an anchor.
- By offering promotions, stores can encourage their customers to compare the sale price with the original price (the anchor point) to give the impression that they're getting a good deal.
- By displaying your top-of-the-range services first, you encourage your customers to accept the prices of your other (cheaper) services.
Subtle clues can influence users' decisions, depending on how the choices are presented to them.
Nudge Theory involves subtly guiding users toward desirable actions while maintaining their freedom of choice.
It's about making the desired action easy and appealing, encouraging users to make decisions that benefit them.
Nudge Theory works because it simplifies decision-making.
One-click ordering on Amazon makes the purchasing process straightforward.
It reduces friction in the user journey, making the desired action (purchase) the path of least resistance.
Websites often use subtle animations to draw attention to specific actions, like the color and placement of a call-to-action.
The visual cue nudges users to take a specific action, like scrolling down a page or clicking on a button.
Imagine filling out a details form, which includes fields like your full name, phone number, and email address.
- As you enter your details, green checkmarks appear next to correctly filled fields, and red X marks appear next to incorrect or incomplete fields.
- Hovering over a red X mark displays a helpful tooltip, explaining what needs to be corrected.
Seeing green checkmarks as fields are correctly filled gives users a sense of accomplishment and encourages them to complete the remaining fields.
- Make desired actions easier. Lazy, busy, or distracted, we favor options that require minimal effort. Make the preferred action on your website the easiest choice.
- Provide immediate feedback. Users love instant gratification. Highlighting immediate benefits after an action can act as a powerful nudge.
- Use social proof. Featuring testimonials, user statistics, or reviews nudges visitors by showing them others have benefited from taking the action you're suggesting.
Users' attention is drawn to elements that stand out.
The Contrast Effect is a cognitive bias that distorts our perception of one thing when we compare it to another, accentuating the differences between the two.
It's a principle where distinct elements — be it color, shape, or size — stand out against each other.
This difference can guide users to key content, making your site intuitive and navigable, thereby increasing satisfaction, retention, and conversions.
Why does it work? Our brains are wired to notice differences.
When something stands out, it immediately captures our attention, making the Contrast Effect a powerful tool for directing user focus and actions on a website.
Low-contrast text may look better, but it's also unreadable, difficult to read and inaccessible. Instead, consider solutions that are easier for your users to read.
A few years ago, Joshua Porter conducted a famous study entitled "The Button Color A/B Test".
He compared the conversion of two variants of the same landing page.
The only difference between versions A and B was the color of the call-to-action button.
Version A had a green call-to-action button, while version B had a red button.
Although Joshua predicted that the green button would perform better, the red button outperformed it, resulting in 21% more clicks.
Does this mean that red is the best-converting color?
No. It's likely that the red button attracted more attention because it was the only object to stand out on the page.
Nike's online store uses contrast effectively to drive conversion.
Their minimalist white background is starkly contrasted by their richly colored product photos.
This visual contrast grabs attention and guides user’s eyes directly to their products.
Their "Add to Bag" button is black, standing out from the white background.
- Think Big, Think Bold. So the rule is simple: if you want users to interact with something, make it stand out! Amp up the size and weight of your key text to make it instantly noticeable.
- Clear Contrast, Clear Content. If you place text on an image, make sure it's legible by providing adequate contrast. Subtle adjustments can increase contrast without affecting the overall aesthetics of the site.
- Play with Space. Isolate important elements on big fields of white or dark space. Detaching them from other elements skyrockets their prominence and command attention promptly.
Pretty designs feel easier to use, whether they are or not.
Users are more tolerant of minor user experience (UX) problems when they find an interface visually appealing.
The effect of aesthetics on usability can mask certain user interface (UI) issues and prevent problems from being discovered during usability testing.
In addition to generating positive feelings about a product, attractive aesthetics also evoke feelings of sympathy, loyalty and tolerance, all of which are important factors in the ease of use and long-term success of a product and a company.
Apple's success is an excellent example of the competitive advantage of attention to aesthetics.
They invest in the visual design of their physical products, as well as in their software, which helps mask UX issues.
Think of Netflix's sleek interface, with its animated, warm-colored tiles and eye-catching cover art, is both functional and visually pleasing.
Features like personalized "Top Picks" and organized genre rows invite continuous scrolling and exploration.
Airbnb's success is partly due to its clean, intuitive design, featuring high-quality visuals of listings and straightforward filters.
This aesthetic appeal encourages users to explore and overlook minor issues, increasing the likelihood of bookings.
- First impressions matter. Make your website aesthetically pleasing from the get-go with an intuitive layout, soothing colors, and high-quality images. Pleasing visuals make repeated use more likely and make people are more tolerant of minor UX issues
- Simplicity sells. Users want to navigate easily, so keep the design simple. Avoid clutter, ensure essential items stand out, and always have clear, actionable buttons.
- Consistency is key. Maintain a consistent design across all site. This makes it easier to navigate, improving usability and aesthetics. Consistency makes your site predictable and user-friendly.
Revealing complex information later keeps tasks manageable and users engaged.
Progressive disclosure is a design strategy where information and options are revealed as users engage and delve deeper.
In other words, it postpones advanced or rarely-used functions until later in the user experience.
The aim is to reduce the risk of users feeling overwhelmed by what they discover. By progressively revealing information, designers reveal only the essentials, enabling users to manage the complexity of a website or application.
Let's take Google again (an example we're all familiar with - familiarity bias), with a search for the keyword "best isekai". An article (written by me) appears in position 0.
This extract provides the user with just enough information to determine whether they want to go a step further and find out more, or whether the information provided already meets their needs.
Progressive disclosure is therefore one of the best ways of satisfying two contradictory requirements:
- Users want an answer to all their needs.
- Users want simplicity.
Amazon exemplifies Progressive Disclosure in its shopping experience.
Initial product listings provide just enough information, like the name, image, price, and star ratings to help you make an initial assessment.
When you click on a product, you then see a wealth of detail – more product specifics, customer reviews, Q&As, and comparatives.
This "on-demand" information keeps the website uncluttered, giving users control over their experience.
Airbnb's platform exemplifies Progressive Disclosure to simplify booking.
Users initially see properties with a photo, price, type, and rating. Clicking a listing reveals more details like photos, amenities, rules, and reviews.
For deeper insight, users can access host profiles, neighborhood info, and Q&As.
This staged information approach prevents user overwhelm, facilitating a smooth, user-friendly booking experience.
- Prioritize essential info. Don't directly overload the user with all the information available about your product or service.
- Design for user engagement. Incorporate elements of suspense, progression and surprise by providing access to the right information at the right time.
- Test and Iterate. Don't assume you know what the user wants or appreciates most. Instead, discuss it directly with them.
People struggle to understand emotions they haven't faced themselves.
The Empathy Gap is a cognitive bias where people struggle to understand mental states that are different from their current state.
This also result in the underestimation of the influence of emotional states on their preferences and behaviors.
But, in reality, emotions significantly influence our decision-making process.
When designing, acknowledging this gap helps in creating experiences that resonate with users in various emotional states.
The "hot-cold empathy gap" refers to the difficulty in understanding and predicting our behavior when our emotional state changes.
In a calm state (cold), a man plans to eat healthily but fails to empathize with this decision when hungry (hot), opting for immediate satisfaction with junk food.
This gap highlights the disconnect in decision-making between different emotional states.
Ever rushed and late? Uber gets it.
Traditional cab-hailing could leave you anxious, not knowing when your ride would arrive.
Uber bridges this empathy gap with live tracking, instantly showing your driver's location and arrival time upon booking.
This feature alleviates the stress of waiting, enhancing user experience and boosting ride bookings.
Netflix understands binge-watchers' mindset with its 'Skip Intro' button.
While opening credits are enjoyable initially, they become tedious during binge-watching.
The 'Skip Intro' feature allows viewers to dive right into the action, reducing annoyance and enhancing the viewing experience.
- User testing is critical. Experience your site like a visitor. Notice any discomfort and fix it. You'll understand their journey and emotions firsthand.
- Use language familiar to your audience. By speaking their lingo, your users will feel more understood.
- Regularly solicit feedback. Be responsive to suggestions and complaints. Make users feel heard and valued. They'll be more likely to stick around and convert.
Users are more likely to remember elements that stand out.
The Von Restorff effect, also known as the isolation effect, predicts that when several similar objects are present, the one that stands out from the others is the most likely to be remembered.
On Hugo Décrypte's YouTube channel, the "ACTUS DU JOUR" tag is highlighted by a white tag. This is one of the only differentiating elements from other formats.
The tag makes it easier for Hugo Décrypte subscribers to identify this format, especially as Hugo has 3 channels and his videos are regularly pushed up the YouTube recommendations.
Another example, with Notion's pricing page. The use of orange for the button and the words "Invite your team for free" make the Team plan stand out from the other two.
Another, perhaps more familiar, example is the addition of a “new” badge to a product or service. Or simply the icon of an application and its unread notifications.
- Make important information or key actions stand out visually.
- Be careful when emphasizing visual elements to avoid competition.
- Pay particular attention to your important elements, including their contrast ratio, so that they are perfectly visible.
Users are more likely to act when little effort is required.
The Spark Effect in UX design refers to the use of animations, transitions, or micro-interactions that capture user attention, creating a delightful and engaging user experience.
It’s the "spark" that adds life to the user interface, making it dynamic and responsive.
Rive.app utilizes the Spark Effect by incorporating vibrant and dynamic animations into its interface, turning ordinary interactions into surprising experiences.
Linear.app employs the Spark Effect by seamlessly integrating sleek design transitions and interactive elements.
Apple’s website utilizes the Spark Effect by incorporating dynamic animations and visually appealing transitions between product displays.
This encourages the exploration of their products and technologies.
- Use Startling Images. Get attention quickly with visuals that spark interest and create immediate emotional engagement.
- Ask Unusual Questions. Invoke curiosity right from your headline. If it promises something unique or challenges existing beliefs, your audience will want answers.
- Offer Interactive Content. Keep visitors hooked through polls, quizzes, or interactive infographics. This dynamic content not only delivers value but also compels users to interact.
Word choice can change how an audience perceives and responds to information.
Framing effect is the influence on your users' decisions depending on how the same piece of information is presented.
For instance, labelling a glass as "half empty" vs. "half full".
It highlights that user perception and actions can be swayed by tweaking word choice, visuals or context.
Amazon cleverly frames its Prime membership as 'Only $14.99 per month', instead of the annual cost of $179.88.
This monthly framing makes the price seem more manageable, highlighting immediate benefits like fast shipping and streaming services.
Allstate's "Mayhem" campaign brilliantly utilizes negative framing by personifying the chaos and destruction that can occur without proper insurance.
Through humorous and dramatic scenarios, "Mayhem" illustrates the severe losses one might face.
This pushes viewers to consider purchasing Allstate insurance to protect themselves from financial turmoil.
Apple effectively uses framing by highlighting benefits over features in their iPhone marketing.
Instead of listing technical specs, they focus on user experiences to sell their product.
For example, instead of detailing camera specs, Apple says, "Capture your best low-light photos with Night mode".
Visual cues are elements guiding you where to click, swipe or tap.
Signifiers are visual cues that guide users to understand how to interact with a website or application.
They add clarity to site navigation, decrease user confusion, and boost user engagement.
When used right, they click with users' intuition and reduce the cognitive load on users by providing clear visual instructions
Amazon uses a magnifying glass icon in their search bar, a universal signifier indicating that users can search for products here.
The shopping cart icon signifies where users can view the items they’ve added to their cart.
In online forms, the specific field a user interacts with might be highlighted or outlined, signifying where the user’s input is currently being placed.
Let's look at RiseVerse website for instance.
On Spotify’s website, buttons such as ‘Play’ subtly show a green play button when hovered over.
The vibrant green color is used as a signifier to indicate clickable buttons, guiding users to interact with these elements.
Note also that some buttons slightly enlarge or shift when hovered over.
- Use buttons and links that look clickable. If a user can't instantly distinguish a button or link from static content, they may miss key navigation options.
- Leverage color and size to highlight key features. Big, bold, and bright elements are more likely to catch a user's eye, guiding them on the path you want them to take.
- Use consistent iconography. Icons are visual cues that your viewers can instantly recognize. Consistency helps users anticipate how to interact with your site.
People filter out relevant elements of their environment when they are concentrating, while ignoring irrelevant stimuli.
Users ignore the elements to which they are repeatedly exposed.
When a user performs an action, the feedback indicates what has happened.
People tend to be influenced by their own expectations.
Users' thoughts filter out some elements while ignoring others.
Elements that are close and similar are perceived as one and the same.
If you over-simplify a system, you transfer some of the complexity to the users.
The visual elements used to guide users' eyes afterwards.
Previous stimuli can influence users' final decisions.
Elements that are close to each other tend to be associated with each other.
👀 Search the meaning.
When users try to make sense of information, they create stories
and hypotheses to fill in the gaps.
The moment when users first experience the added value of your product and the benefits it brings to their lives.
Digital designs mimic real-world, familiar objects for intuitive use.
Users have preconceived opinions about how many things work.
People prefer what they know over what's new or different.
When you ask leading questions to the same type of people or when people give socially acceptable answers.
People think that individuals or products are more attractive when presented as a group.
People tend to overestimate their ability to predict the outcome of an unpredictable event as if it were easily foreseeable.
People think they're noticed more than they actually are.
When one object stands out, it becomes the main focus.
Refers to the tendency to let our overall impression of a person, company or product positively influence our judgment of its other traits.
People value things more when they are rare, in limited quantities.
When you try to hide something, it only makes people more curious about it.
When new users become aware of the benefits of using your product for the first time.
People tend to return favors given to them.
Users are more likely to interact with messages they have created themselves.
Users adapt their behavior according to what others are doing, in order to be liked, resemble or be accepted by society.
Tendency to finish a whole 'unit’ simply because it's presented as a whole.
Users have a strong desire to find missing information.
Feeling uneasy when actions clash with beliefs.
Tendency of user to alter their usual behavior when they know they're being watched.
When users know what to expect before taking action.
As users get closer to a goal, their motivation increases to reach it faster.
Users perceive and interpret ambiguous or complex images in the simplest possible way, as this requires less mental effort.
Users tend to attribute greater importance and accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure.
The human eye tends to perceive a relationship between similar elements.
Users tend to take initiative to achieve a goal if there's a sense of a new beginning.
Users tend to prefer socially responsible companies and perceive them as more authentic.
People unknowingly assume that the other person has the same level of knowledge.
On average, a user can only keep 7±2 items in their working memory.
People appreciate rewards much more when there's an element of randomness.
Tasks that are part of a whole are more exciting to accomplish.
Flow is a state of mind in which a person is completely immersed in an activity and their concentration is at its highest.
Users consider that simple solutions are often better than more complex ones.
⏰ Act within a given time.
Users are often called upon, so they look for shortcuts
and quickly draw conclusions.
People tend to overestimate their skills when they have limited knowledge in a field.
Spending more because you've already invested time and effort, even if it doesn't make sense.
When you find general statements unusually accurate for yourself.
People value a product more when they see the work that has gone on behind the scenes.
People tend to appreciate an object more if they make (or assemble) it themselves.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is the constant fear people have of missing an important news or event.
“Everyone's doing it, so I should too" describes our tendency to mirror group behavior.
Once we choose a path, we're likely to stick with it.
When users invest in something, they're more likely to come back.
People perceive time subjectively.
The ease with which users can discover your features.
Making a large number of decisions requires a great deal of mental effort, which reduces users' ability to make rational choices.
Refers to the way in which a researcher's expectations can influence those being observed.
We spend skyrockets when we don't use physical cash.
Difficult tasks are less frightening when they're associated with something users want.
People prefer to avoid the pain of losing, as it is psychologically twice as important as the pleasure of winning equivalent gains.
People think others agree with them more than they actually do.
People tend to stick with what they know and resist change.
These are deceptive UX/UI interactions, designed to trick users into doing something they don't want to do.
Each action leads to a consequence, and each consequence follows another.
People often rely on their emotions, rather than factual information, to make decisions.
When people's beliefs are challenged by evidence to the contrary, their beliefs are reinforced.
Users are less likely to adopt a behavior when they feel forced.
Users adapt better to small, gradual changes than to a complete overhaul.
The tendency to attribute positive events to oneself, but to attribute negative results to external factors unrelated to oneself.
People tend to choose immediate rewards over future rewards, even if those immediate rewards are less important.
People underestimate the time needed to complete a task, as well as the associated costs and risks, even if this contradicts their own experiences.
People will continue to work on a task until their allotted time is reached.
When people acquire a new skill, they tend to see opportunities to use it everywhere.
80% of the results are the fruit of 20% of the actions implemented.
💾 Store interaction in memory.
Users try to remember what's most important, but their brain prioritizes
certain elements over others.
People retain more information when it's grouped together.
Images are remembered better than words.
People remember stories, not information.
Users value something more if they feel it belongs to them.
Crafting behavior step-by-step makes complex tasks less daunting.
People tend to remember interrupted or incomplete tasks or events more easily than completed ones.
People recall bad experiences better than good ones.
People remember and judge an experience by how they felt at its peak and at its end.
Users are more likely to remember the unexpected, playful pleasures of a product, which lends credence to the company.
Our learning improves when study sessions are spaced out over time.
Invite users to have a pleasant experience by offering them the possibility of opting out at the right moment.
Users are more attracted by things that appeal to several senses.
Users prefer recent and available information to old.
People remember the first and last elements of a series better, and have trouble remembering those in the middle.
We're better at recognizing things we've already experienced than at remembering them.
People remember things better when they are associated with a place.
When users are asked to take action based on a memory.
💡 Psychology inspirations and resources.
If you'd like to learn more about behavioral psychology and mental models, we highly recommend taking a look at these resources:
The idea and structure of this ressource is inspired by Growth Design.
Codex on cognitive bias.
The four categories on our list are taken from the work of Buster Benson.
The big book on mental models and cognitive biases by Gabriel Weinberg.
How do you create habit-forming products from Nir Eyal?
Influence and manipulation.
The psychology of persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
Contagious: why things go viral by Jonah Berger?
The hidden forces that shape our decisions by Dan Ariely.
📜 The Cognitive bias cheat sheet.
We've taken the time to summarize each bias in a short sentence.
These 109 cognitive biases can be found in our cognitive bias cheat sheet.
Use it to keep in mind your users' behavior towards your product.
Make sure they really appreciate your product, offer them a memorable experience!
👇 Now it's your turn to play.
So, which principle will you apply in your business?
Do you think we've forgotten to add an important cognitive bias or principles to this list?
If you have any questions at all, you can contact us at [email protected], we're happy to answer anyone, so don't hesitate!
Find out how we'll take your brand into a new era and get you to achieve your goals by setting up a discovery workshop with Greg, our co-founder.