Why Simple Websites are Better #4 - Working Memory

There have been some fun experiments carried out into working memory, or, how much information a person is able to temporarily store in their short term memory and how that affects their decision making capabilities.

My favorite involves asking the subject to remember either a single digit number or a seven digit number, then ‘by chance’ offering them a piece of chocolate cake or a fruit salad. Those who had been given a single digit number more often chose the fruit salad, while those with the longer number to remember chose the chocolate cake. The theory is that the ones carrying a ‘lighter cognitive load’ had more brain power left to resist the lure of the cake.

This is important for your web design, because you want to ensure your visitors are processing what you want them to – i.e. your USPs (unique selling points) and special offers.

If your website is too deviant from the prototype, lackscognitive fluency or is too visually complex, then the poor user will be exhausted before they’ve even noticed you’ve got 40% off everything.

Having expended all that brainpower just looking at your website, they will feel disengaged and tired and will switch over to somewhere else that makes them feel more relaxed and at home – i.e. your competitor’s site.

However, if they’re arrived at your site and it instantly looks familiar, feels straightforward and doesn’t distract, then they can immediately get on with what they came there for in the first place – i.e. buying your products and services.

Check out these articles for more detail on why simple website are better:

Click here to read about tips on choosing a web designer and how to write copy for your website homepage.