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Peak-end rule

Synonyms: extension neglect, duration neglect

Peak-end rule explains how our impressions become memories. It states that we remember not the sum of all our impressions, but only the brightest positive or negative moments and the finale of the experience.

In Practice

Research

Peak-end rule can be very helpful in designing UX-research. When you want to find out what impression your product creates, ask simple questions. For example, you can ask what was the most difficult or inconvenient part of using the product. Answers will help you to find negative peaks and then get rid of them or even turn them into positive ones.

Exploring users' impressions can dramatically improve your design. With the understanding of how people create impressions of your product you can focus users’ attention on whatever you need

Designing better impressions

This is about creating more positive peaks and eliminating negative ones.

 

The best examples here refer to a gamification in learning. We all know that learning something new might be very stressful, that is why making the process feel like a game is a good solution. It creates good memories. For example, a system of scores and achievements creates positive peaks that also helps to keep a high level of motivation. 

Creating good emotions and positive peaks is a shortcut to users’ hearts

Focusing on the final part

Especially when it comes to a complex products. 

 

Let’s say you have a complicated form with 20 steps. To make users feel comfortable you can enable autofill and autocorrect, split up these steps into categories, add inline error messages and so on. This is how you can eliminate negative peaks. But when it takes a lot of time and actions to complete any process, your aim is to make the user forget about it. And here the good final part can be useful. 

 

Give your users some empathy and support. For example, you can emphasise that you understand that filling the form wasn’t easy and now, when it’s over, you can share users’ satisfaction.

This is how you can turn not the best impressions to better ones (or at least less painful!). The user will recall this image and new available services instead of the multi-step form

Key Takeaways

  1. Use peak-end rule to design better UX research. 
  2. Remember about the importance of bright impressions. They create the whole experience. 
  3. Good design of the final steps can soften negative impressions, but the last ones are always more vivid than the positive ones. When it is possible, try to get rid of negative peaks.

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