According to a 1996 psychological study, the feeling that we get as humans when we experience something in the moment can actually be very different than the feeling we have when we think back to those experiences at a later time.
In regards to website design, we naturally want to create designs that leave lasting positive impressions with website visitors. But how do we accomplish this?
According to this study, the way people remember experiences is surprisingly not related to the sum of the good or bad that was experienced. Instead, the memory is very much like a constant stream of snapshots. The human brain is wired to remember the key moments and tends to discard the noise associated with "in the moment" experiences.
However, to be most effective with website design, it's important that you design with the experience and memory in mind. To do this, here are a few pointers to take into consideration:
1. Pay attention to the ending.
You can think of the ending as the last experience that a user has when ending a session on your website.
Some examples of good endings in digital experiences include seeing a small selection of relevant stories at the end of a blog post or being given the option to unsubscribe from email newsletters.
If you want to leave a bad taste in your visitors' mouths, poor choices for endings in digital experiences include a bunch of spammy clickbait links at the end of a blog post or a welcome email for new subscribers that appears to have been written as an afterthought.
2. Slow down the pace of the user experience.
We've spent a lot of time talking about how today's consumers have an attention span shorter than a goldfish. Because of this, many businesses today feel pressured to quickly move customers through the user experience on their websites.
In some cases, it can actually be more beneficial for both you and the customer to purposely slow down the user experience. An example of a website that does this well is TurboTax. What you may or may not know is that this website uses artificial delays to give customers the illusion that TurboTax is going the extra mile to ensure that the data is double-checked. Certainly, TurboTax is not the only website taking advantage of this website design technique.
3. Create peak moments.
What we really mean by this is to create moments that carry emotional weight. If you can evoke emotion in your website visitors, you'll create an experience that will stick.
A unique emotional design tactic is to create the element of surprise by letting users uncover their own exciting findings in a UI. SnapChat does a great job with this with its new lenses feature, which is almost impossible to find in the UI without help. Users feel so accomplished when they figure this feature out, which ultimately leads to a peak memorable moment.
In summary, while designing for the user experience is critical, so is website design for memory. By slowing down the user experience and paying attention to the moments that matter most, such as the peak and the end, you'll be successful in create a website design that leaves visitors with a lasting positive impression of your brand.