84 cognitive biases to help you design better converting products - part 2

Cognitive biases you should know in order to design better product - part 2, the mobile spoon
The ultimate cognitive biases collection - Part II

This is part 2 of the ultimate cognitive biases guide, check part 1 in here:

84 cognitive biases that will help you design better products - Part 1

Let's continue from where we left off:

We are not as thorough as we say we are

Sure, we did the research before making the decisions, we just forgot a few things along the way, that's all... 

42. Availability Heuristic (Availability Bias)

We think that things that jump quickly to mind are more common and important than the things that do not easily come to mind. As a result, what’s recent, frequent, extreme, remembered, is more influential than the majority of information.

UI tip: make your design rememberable by creating something unique that stands out (without compromising on consistency and familiarity).

Availability Heuristic (Availability Bias)

43. Attentional Bias

When examining all possible outcomes - we tend to focus on a few that seem rational and familiar and ignore all others.

Question: Did you ever release a feature thinking that it would lead to a certain outcome only to discover it caused a side effect you failed to anticipate?

Attentional Bias - 84 cognitive biases to help you design better products (by the mobile spoon)

44. Fluency Heuristic

We give higher value to things that are processed faster, fluently, and smoothly.
Sometimes illogical argument, if communicated well (by someone who has authority and experience presenting things) might win.

Fluency heuristic - 84 cognitive biases to use when designing products (by the mobile spoon)

A related term here is “Mental Shortcuts” - people frequently use heuristics to make decisions; you should use them to your advantage in your design.
Product tips:
  1. Make things easy for your users (fast, simple and easy navigation)
  2. Make content easily scannable (images, readable fonts)
  3. Create “mental shortcuts” that will hook your users and promote the preferred behavior.
  4. Provide meaningful defaults, because users assume you have their best interests in mind and will select the default options whenever possible.
  5. Add a powerful cross-product search to ease the finding of specific topics.
Here are 2 examples for making things easier for the user, in order to promote the preferred behavior for the business.

Fluency Heuristic - Users expect products to provide them with ready-to-use defaults - the mobile spoon
Users expect products to provide ready-to-use defaults

Fluency Heuristic in product design - providing easy shortcuts for recent activity
Provide quick and easy shortcuts to recent activity

Work-related tip: Always do your homework: collect enough data, write down your points, think about how to present your points, invest in the design of things.

45. The Google Effect (AKA: Digital Amnesia)

We forget information that can be easily found online.
Question: Do you remember the phone number of your best friend or kid?

Before you continue, check out some of my posts:

We are not as smart as we think…

I mean, of course we are! But if you want your product to succeed, show how George Clooney uses it and make it sound like rhyme…

46. Halo Effect

The "halo effect" is when one quality of a person (or thing) is used to make an overall judgment of that person or thing. In other words, our initial impression of a person, product, company or brand affects our interpretation of its character in its entirety. For example, a tall or good-looking person will be perceived as being intelligent and trustworthy, and so on…
How to use: take advantage of this heuristic by using authoritative photos and visuals that build trust.

47. Decoy Effect

Consumers will tend to have a specific change in preference between two options when a third, asymmetrically dominating option is added.

How to use: define your alternatives wisely, and regardless of the number of options you plan to have - make sure they end up being 3.

Decoy effect - define your options wisely, and then make sure to present only 3 ;-) - www.mobilespoon.net
Decoy effect - define your options wisely, and then make sure to present only 3...

48. The Humor Effect

We remember information better when that information is perceived as funny or humorous.
This can help in conversion rates of products and in business in general.
How NOT to use it: don’t use humor in situations where the user might be frustrated.
For instance, if your app is not compatible with an old device - don’t say it in a funny way because the user is probably too frustrated at that point to laugh.

49. Rhyme-as-Reason Effect

If you thought the halo effect is lame - wait till you read this one:
Rhyming statements are perceived as more truthful.
Or as they say: “What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals”.

How to use: don’t.


50. Illusory Truth Effect

The more something is repeated, the more we believe it.
How to use: Repeat your message (key benefit, main differentiator) again and again: in your ads, website, App Store page, during onboarding, newsletters, etc.

51. The Availability Cascade

Repeat something long enough and it’ll become true.
How to use: create a catchy slogan and make sure to repeat it enough to make it stick.

Oh, and if by any chance this slogan ends with a rhyme - it might work even better.

Intelligent people are easily tricked as well

They are! Here are a few examples:

52. The False Consensus Bias

We tend to overestimate how much other people are like us and share our opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits, and as a result - think the same way as we do.
Question: Without getting into politics (or specific countries), were you recently surprised by your country’s election results?

53. Curse of Knowledge

When we are experts in a certain field, we often fail to realize the people we talk to don’t have the background we assume they have in this field.

UI/UX tip: Think about the majority of your users: they are probably less technical than you think and less familiar with the things you are well familiar with.

Curse of knowledge in UI error messages - the mobile spoon

54. Projection Bias (Empathy Gap)

We assume that our current tastes and preferences for things will remain the same over time.
We are not able to place ourselves in the emotional state of our future selves, and thus make future commitments that suit our current state.

55. The Forer (or Barnum) Effect

We tend to give high accuracy ratings to positive personality and value descriptions that we believe are written ‘just for us’ when they are typically vague and general enough to apply to anybody.
How to use it: In UX Writing - approach your users/visitors directly using words such as: ‘you’, ‘your’.

56. Restraint Bias

We have the tendency to overestimate our ability to show restraint in the face of temptation or addiction.

How to use: We all think clickbait titles are lame, but we all fall for them, don’t we?
Restraint Bias - We all think clickbait titles are lame, but we all fall for them, don’t we?
Clickbait titles are lame, but we all fall for them...

57. Optimism Bias

We often to overestimate the odds of our own success compared to other people's.
Product tip: Make sure your product doesn’t hide any unpleasant surprises that might break the optimism bias (such as extra costs, possible delays, etc.)
Work-related tip: When planning, force yourself to be pessimistic:
  1. If you believe 60% of your downloads will convert into actual users - assume 50% in your calculations.
  2. If you believe a new user will cost $4, round it up to $5.
  3. If your business works badly during winters - plan for long winters.
  4. If your plan includes resource availability - didn’t be over-optimistic about their capacity and performance.
A plan that is conservative and still demonstrates success, is much better than an over-pessimistic one.

    Think optimistically.
    Plan pessimistically.
    Execute uncompromisingly.

    58. Planning Fallacy

    We tend to underestimate the time needed to complete a task. It’s one of the reasons why plans often break and projects get delayed. Breaking large tasks into smaller pieces helps to deal with this phenomenon.

    Work tip: multiply your initial estimations in 2, no, actually make it 3.
    Do it not because you’re lazy, but because your estimations are probably wrong…

    59. Parkinson's Law of Triviality

    We tend to waste too much time on trivial topics and leave too little time to the important stuff.
    Work tip: This one happens a lot in meetings: the first 1-2 items take longer than needed, not leaving enough time for the rest of the items.
    A timed agenda can help fix this annoying phenomenon.

    [Read: How to maintain your product momentum when you’re out of development budget]

    60. Dunning–Kruger Effect

    We are unable to recognize our lack of ability.
    “Our inability to recognize our lack of ability to recognize our inability. “
    Career tip: When you join a new team or a new company, remember that there are many things you don’t know, and many things you don’t even know you don’t know…
    Start low, get familiar with the people involved. Talk less and observe more.
    Keep a low profile until you are no longer a novice.

    61. Insensitivity to Sample Size

    We often ignore the sample size and jump to conclusions even though the sample size is not enough statistically.
    Product management tip: Talking to customers is important, but don’t base your product assumptions on a few interviews. Work with big numbers and base your product decisions on real data rather than assumptions.
    Illusion of Control
    We tend to overestimate our degree of influence over external events.

    Double or nothing!

    Weirdly enough, when we realize we’re about to lose, and maybe because we hate losing so much - we tend to invest more in the failing option.

    62. Choice-Supportive Bias (Post-Purchase Rationalization)

    Once a decision is made, we tend to praise the option we selected and demote the other options.

    Product/UX hack: Whenever a user goes through a significant step in the conversion funnel - show an affirming message, praise them, and congratulate them for achieving this step.

    Virality tip: A great timing to ask a user to share the product (or add a review) is right after the user makes a decision to purchase that leads to a successful transaction. This moment combines a successful experience with the choice-supportive bias.

    Choice-Supportive Bias (Post-Purchase Rationalization) - 84 cognitive biases you need to know about, in order to design better products
    Praise your users and congratulate them for achieving significant steps 

    63. The Sunk Cost Fallacy

    The more we invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
    As a result, we often continue with a failing course of action, only because of the time, money or effort that we’ve already invested in it in the past.

    Onboarding tip: Make it easy for your users to start with a small action which is fun and engaging. This will pave the way for bigger commitments later on.

    Life tip: When you feel you’re about to go “all in” on something - take a break (few minutes, few hours, or even sleep on it) - you’ll see things differently when you are back.

    64. Irrational Escalation (Escalation of Commitment)

    We continue rationalizing a previous decision we made by repeating it (or investing even more in it), and by doing so, prove that our previous decision was correct.

    Life tip: Don’t fall in love with your ideas just because you already invested in them. Cut your losses on time.

    Product rule: Measure and analyze the performance of every new feature you release. Don’t trust your instincts and always be suspicious about your own decisions.

    Irrational Escalation - provide free trials to hook the user through escalation of commitment
    Provide free trials to hook the users through an escalation of commitment

    65. The Ostrich Effect

    We deliberately avoid negative information (or feedback that isn't aligned with our hopes), thinking that if we bury our head in the sand - they will disappear.
    Question: Have you ever received really bad customer feedback, and thought "It's just one customer, it doesn’t mean anything"?
    Product management tip: Work alongside customer support: do it proactively, see what customers are struggling with. There’s a lot to learn from going over user complaints.

    66. Disposition Effect

    The disposition effect is an anomaly discovered in behavioral finance. It relates to the tendency of investors to sell assets that have increased in value while keeping assets that have dropped in value.

    But don’t push it! 

    Persuading people might seem easier than expected, but don’t push it though. 
    Building trust is a process, and if the users feel something is wrong - they become over defensive, and this is when your battle is lost.

    67. Reactance

    Reactance occurs when we feel that someone (or something) is trying to constrain our freedom by taking away our choices and limit our alternatives. When it happens, we feel an urge to resist it and do the opposite.
    Product tip: be careful when you “argue” with a user about his selected choice.
    Nudges must be gentle and elegant, and must never harm the user’s confidence.

    68. Single Option Aversion

    We are unwilling to choose an option (regardless of how attractive it is) when there are no other competing options.

    Conversion tip: Without creating too many options - set 3 options so your customers will have alternatives, without becoming confused.

    Single option aversion - set 3 options so your customers will have alternatives, without being confused.

    69. Analysis Paralysis (Choice Overload)

    This bias rhymes, which means it’s probably true:
    When too many options are presented, our brain shuts down and we are having a hard time choosing.
    Think about overloaded restaurant menus and how overwhelming (and not fun!) they can get.

    Product rule: Too many options = poor conversion rate.

    Analysis Paralysis - Too many options lead to poor conversion rate - the mobile spoon
    Too many options lead to poor conversion rates

    70. Ambiguity Effect

    We tend to avoid the unknown and do not select options that are missing information or clarity.
    Minimize ambiguity by adding reassuring details and your conversion rates will improve.

    Product tip: if you sell products - invest in the description, photos, price and delivery options.

    UI hack: CTA buttons should include informative labels next to them, designed to clear possible uncertainties.

    Ambiguity Effect - Clarity is key for improving conversion rates - 84 cognitive biases to use in products
    Clarity is key for improving conversion rates

    71. Risk Compensation

    We become more careful where we sense greater risk and less careful when we feel more protected.
    Product tip: Workflows should be designed to minimize friction.

    Friction is usually bad for business unless it's created intentionally.

    72. Peltzman Effect

    We are more likely to act in a risky way when we know all security measures have been taken.
    UI tip: Let your users feel as safe as possible with your product - let them gain confidence and trust, especially before making a purchase or singing-up.

    73. Backfire Effect

    We can’t change people’s beliefs that easily: evidence and argumentation in opposite to an entrenched belief will not help and will only strengthen their position.

    Work-related tip: win people’s behavior through emotional arguments (look around you! There’s a list of relevant techniques right here!) and don’t try to change their beliefs.

    Some more mind tricks before we wrap

    74. The Frequency Illusion (Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon)

    We see new information, names, ideas or patterns 'everywhere' soon after they're first brought to our attention. For instance, if someone is thinking of buying a new car, it’s common that he suddenly sees this car everywhere.

    Marketing tip: When pushing a campaign - make sure to expose your visitors to the same content in different marketing channels and with retargeting techniques.

    75. Placebo Effect

    Our behavior, attitude or feelings can change when we are convinced we’ve received something attributable to the change (i.e. a fake treatment).
    Marketing tip: Belief and experience create a reality.
    These stories your customers tell about your product are how your placebo effect spreads and becomes real to more and more people.

    76. Peak-End Rule

    We judge an experience based on how we felt at its’ peak and at its’ end, rather than based on the average or the total sum of it.

    Product tip: Maintain your competitive advantage and raise your product peak moments by making your best features even better.

    Another product tip: Don’t neglect the “after-purchase” experience of your product. Make sure to end the experience with a superb taste.

    Peak-End Rule - identify your product peaks and make them even better! (the mobile spoon)
    Identify your product peaks and turn them into delightful experiences 

    77. Distinction Bias

    When comparing options side-by-side, we become hypersensitive to small differences, while in fact, those differences are not so big.
    Marketing tip: Show your product advantages next to your competitors so the visitors can notice the differences. Even the small ones.

    78. Self-Relevance Effect

    We remember events that are related to us much better than events related to others.
    Makes sense…

    79. Primacy Effect

    Items at the beginning and at the end of a list are more easily recalled than items in the middle.
    UI tip: if you plan to show a long list of items - make sure the first one is your most important item.

    80. Cheerleader Effect (Group Attractiveness)

    We think individuals are more attractive when they are in a group but then when we go through each one of them individually - they seem far less attractive.

    Marketing tip: Use cases, testimonials, blog posts - make sure to have a few of them before you publish.

    Cheerleader Effect (Group Attractiveness) - 84 cognitive biases to help you design better products
    Don't say it never happened to you...

    81. Bias Blind Spot

    We notice the impact of biases on the judgment of others, but we fail to see the impact of these same biases on ourselves.

    Bias Blind Spot - we all have them
    like, even right now!

    82. Actor-Observer Bias

    We tend to attribute others’ undesirable behavior to their (shitty) character, but our undesirable behavior to our circumstances.
    Work tip: learn to control this bias and try to understand the other side: it can be external people (i.e. customers, partners) vs. internal people, but can also happen internally: one team vs. another, one role vs. another, etc.

    83. Egocentric Bias

    We satisfy our ego by thinking we contributed to a group effort much more than we actually did.
    “Hey! did you see my last shot-blocker? It gave us the victory!”

    We are all egocentric bias - the mobile spoon
    "Did you see my last shot?"

    84. Observer-Expectancy Effect

    Happens when a researcher's cognitive bias causes them to subconsciously influence the participants of an experiment.

    Wait… if that’s true… then… who guarantees it didn’t happen in all the researches that led to this list?


    So that nails it then: 84 cognitive biases to use when designing products. 

    If you still haven't seen the first part - make sure to head over and read it now, tons of amazing design snippets and useful examples in there as well.

    84 cognitive biases that will help you design better products - Part 1

    Before you leave, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and get my occasional posts directly to your inbox. They say it makes you 23% more awesome than average. 


    Gil Bouhnick The Mobile Spoon
    Anonymous said…
    Fantastic! The specific applications were incredibly helpful. Thank you!