Primacy effect

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda

Imagine reading a list of grocery items. Which items can you recall easily without checking the list? Isn’t it the first few items in the list? When we encounter a block or list of information, there is a high tendency for us to remember only the information presented at the beginning, not the information presented later on. This is identified as the ‘Primacy Effect’, a theory in psychology.

Why the Primacy Effect is important? 

According to psychology, we make many decisions unintentionally based on the theory of Primacy effect on a daily basis. So, the Primacy Effect has a greater impact on our decision making. The concept of ‘the first impression’ is a result of what we grasp at first about a person or a thing when we see it for the first time. So what happens if you present all the core values of something to someone as the first piece of information?  It would ideally help the individual who sees it to remember those values, as a result of Primacy Effect theory. The concept behind the Primacy Effect is important to understand as to make the maximum use of its cognitive fluency and also to address the drawbacks of the theory successfully.  

Hence, Primacy Effect theory is widely used by marketers to present their products or services in a way that all the good values of what they have to offer would be imprinted on the minds of target customers. With time, this could be used for conversion rate optimization (CRO). 

  

Psychology and Primacy Effect theory in Website Designing 

User experience in a website can be affected greatly based on the way you present information. Optimization of an order of information aligned with the Primacy Effect can help you a great deal to convince your target audience to buy your product or service. So, CRO can be coupled with the Primacy effect concept to encourage users to take actions. 

Also, your website design should avoid the limitations of the Primacy Effect theory. Having a proper understanding of the limitations will enable you to present your content in a more precise and effective way to improve user experience. 

The following methods discuss how Primacy Effect theory can be used effectively in your website design for Conversion Rate Optimization. (CRO) 

  1. Optimize your landing pages 

Optimize the designing of your landing pages by emphasizing key information at the beginning and at the end.
 
  • Embed the reasons why should a user purchase your product or service in the first section of the landing page. This would not only grasp users’ attention but positioning them first would help the users to memorize them as a result of Primacy Effect theory.
  • Include relatively less important information in the middle section compared to the first and last sections of the page.
  • For the last section not be neglected, including a call-to-action activity which can recall the information in the first section, hence to push your visitors to take any action to initiate purchasing or to convert themselves into potential leads for future sales of the business.

  1. Include cues effectively
 
Cues are elements in designing that draw attention to important information such as graphics, colours, text styles etc. 

Cues help users to initiate recognition on previously encountered information. Link cues with the Primacy Effect theory to make the users recall your unique value which they learnt about you just previously. Do not overload your website with cues as it would make your website look spammy. Include cues in the middle and latter parts of your landing page with sufficient density. You can use visual cues or call-to-action activity accordingly.  Make your unique value proposition felt to the users throughout their stay at your website!
 
  1. Limit your list to less than 5 items in one occurrence

According to psychology, our short-term memory is capable of being attentive to only 5 items at once in most of the cases. This should be addressed carefully when designing your website. Too much content may leave out the most important ones. Adhere to ‘less-than-five-at-once’ rule to keep your users effectively informed on your products or services. This has a direct bearing on CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) of your website.
 
  1. Primacy Effect for Product Primacy and Pricing Primacy


Primacy Effect for Product

With product primacy, your customers see the products first and then the pricing. If you’re in a business where your customers pay more focus on the quality of your product or service overpricing, then this method is ideal for you. For example, if you are in the real estate industry, presenting your price over the product would do no good as consumers are keener to have a thorough understanding of your property. Pricing is important, yet nobody would buy a property just only because it’s cheap. When designing such websites, focus on highlighting your products overpricing.
 

Primacy Effect for Pricing

With pricing primacy, your customers see the pricing first then the products. If you’re in a business that you competitors and you serve almost the same products, without much difference in features then your customers are most likely to choose a brand based on pricing. There are some other instances when customers go for exclusive pricing. When designing such websites, focus on highlighting pricing over products.  

Human psychology and Primacy Effect theory can be used in website designing for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Designing should be done in such a way to get the maximum advantage of Primacy Effect theory and to address the drawbacks of the theory successfully.  Furthermore, what your customers see first on your website should essentially be decided based on the nature of your business if you want to use the Primacy Effect theory for your advantage. 

Incorporating the knowledge of human cognitive processes to your website design can create a user experience which is more powerful and intuitive. Hence, the Primacy Effect theory cannot be ignored if you want to give the best shape to your website. More the website fits the purpose of the visitors, higher the potential customers and conversion rate will be. 

Sources

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