Bluma Zeigarnik was a German psychologist who recognized that people are easily distracted by too many variables.  In fact, she proved that when someone is presented with too many options, they are unable to focus on the task at hand, until the other options have been explored.  The Zeigarnik Effect is broader than just this, but for purposes of piggy-backing on yesterday’s topic, we’ll just explore this one aspect.

In terms of your website, if you present your customers with several different options or things that grab their attention, it’s been shown that they are less likely to fully focus on the first option, until they have gone back to the other thing that also grabbed their attention in order to explore it.  Take for example a home page with a blow-out special offered in the side bar and an amazing free white paper that’s offered at the bottom of the page.  People will likely, unbeknownst to them, click on one or the other, and not full engage with that option, because of the tension created in the back of their mind, nagging them to go back and check out the other option.  Do you ever have that happen? Then you’ve become the victim of the Zeigarnik Effect.  Perhaps we’ll go into this one more in the future.  It’s quite fascinating and can bring dramatic changes in your sales once you recognize the impact it can have on your users.

Chadd Bryant

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