5 priming techniques to improve UX

by | Aug 23, 2021

Reading time : 5 min


Priming is one of the eight criteria put forward by Némery & Brangier (2014), in a scientific article presenting the guidelines of persuasive interfaces.


Priming is a psychological phenomenon whereby a stimulus, such as an event or experience, influences the individual’s response to a subsequent stimulus.

Priming is an important aspect of both cognitive and social psychology. It shapes our behaviors and how we react to certain things. Priming is a useful shortcut that allows us to make quick decisions. It can also be an efficient persuasion tool for marketers.

Discover in this article, how to use priming to improve UX.

5 priming techniques

The Mere-exposure effect

The mere-exposure effect, also known as the familiarity principle, is a phenomenon that describes our tendency to like or appreciate a stimulus (person, product, brand, music, smell, etc.) simply because we are familiar with them. The more we’re exposed to something, the more we tend to like it. When it involves making a choice, we choose familiar options over unfamiliar ones because it gives us a curious sense of comfort and safety.

The same goes for your website visitors.

Your online visitors will be more reassured and less suspicious if they are familiar with certain elements of your website. For example, using trust seals will inspire confidence in your customers because it assures your visitors that the page is legitimate. This is because trust seals are easily recognizable and used by the most popular brands. A study revealed that trust logos are more easily remembered and give the user a sense of security.

The Attentional bias

Attentional bias is a cognitive bias that refers to situations in which people filter information based on their specific concerns or interests. A threatening stimulus is more quickly detected than a neutral stimulus. For example, a person with a phobia of spiders will be the first to see one.

Online, it’s the same story!

Online visitors will focus on the negative aspect of your messages, even if it is not intended to be threatening! Attentional biases occur because people tend to naturally pay more attention to some stimuli and ignore others. Sadly people are especially biased toward negative information. This is why you must avoid any misunderstanding.

For example, on some websites you will find the statement “you will not receive SPAM”. The attention of your online visitors will be directly drawn to the irritating word “SPAM”. If someone walked into your store and said he wasn’t going to steal anything, what would you immediately think? That he is going to steal something! Well, mentioning the word “spam” near an email signup can have the same effect.

The Availability bias

The Availability Bias, also known as the Availability Heuristic, is a mental shortcut for misjudgment where we believe that information that come readily to mind are more representative than is actually the case.

This cognitive bias consists in favoring memory and emotions over reasoning. For example, if you see a news report about an accident, you start to drive a little more carefully. The chances of you being involved in an accident have not really increased, but the memory of the accident story is readily available in your brain and thus becomes important information.

Remind a user of a problem they are facing and they will see it as a problem worth solving. Try these two things to keep their problem easily accessible to their mind and thought process:

When designing a website, make sure you get the information accessible and ingrained in their mind. Manage user expectations, give them feedback when they solve a problem and remind them what it was about. “Congratulations, only two questions left” is better than “Congratulations!”

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as frequency illusion, is a cognitive bias in which, after noticing something for the first time, you tend to notice it more often, leading to believe that it appears frequently.

There are two reasons for this phenomenon:


Selective attention

Your brain unconsciously looks for more information about the subject.


Confirmation bias

Every time you see something related to the topic, your brain tells you that it is proof that the topic has gained popularity overnight.

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon suggests that you will see or hear something more if you have recently heard about it. In marketing, social proof is an extremely effective method of persuading customers to buy a product. Customer reviews, testimonials, and statements like “four out of five parents recommend” are key to convincing hesitant buyers to choose one product over another.

The wording effect

The wording effect refers to the potential impact of the word order or even the choice of the words themselves on the minds of individuals. 

To encourage the purchase, taking into consideration the wording is essential. Reinforcing your message will increase your chances of persuading the user.

This psychological effect can be applied online.
For example, to make your Call-to-action effective, personalizing its wording can be an excellent way to encourage people to buy your products.

As this image shows, Dotaki recommends opting for an impactful call-to-action for your emotional visitors. The imperative wording “Order” will push emotional visitors to take action.

For rational profiles, Dotaki recommends a less dynamic call-to-action. Rationals like to have a chance to see their shopping cart, it makes them more confident to make a purchase. 

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