Items that stand out from their peers are more memorable

Von Restorff Effect

Items that stand out from their peers are more memorable

But different doesn’t necessarily mean better. Being different is more memorable, but you need to be positively remembered for standing out from the crowd.

Von Restorff, H. (1933) The effects of field formation in the trace field

The Von Restorff effect (named afer psychiatrist Hedwig von Restorff (1906–1962)), also called the isolation effect, predicts that an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be remembered than other items. This is a bias in favour of remembering the unusual.

Takeaways for decision-makers

  1. Create meaningful, helpful contrast between your products through, for instance, the use of a complimentary product in a list of similar products.

  2. Use colour, shape, position and texture to accentuate the contrast.

  3. Think strategically about which product you wish to contrast. What is your rationale? Is it part of a trend you’re looking to capitalise upon? Is this product more important than others you offer?

  4. It’s important to implement contrast in a way that doesn’t dilute its power. Not using the Von Restorff effect sparingly will devalue its presence, may lead to confusion and reduce any efforts made around Aesthetic Usability and Choice.