Every element in web design serves a single purpose – to guide users towards making decisions. One subtle yet powerful tool to influence user choices, ultimately leading to increased conversions and improved user experiences, is the so-called decoy effect.
The decoy effect, also known as the “asymmetric dominance effect” or the “attraction effect,” is a cognitive bias that occurs when people’s preferences shift between two options when a third, less desirable option is introduced. This third option, called the “decoy,” is strategically designed to make one of the original options appear more attractive by comparison.
Here’s how it can be applied:
Pricing Tiers: By introducing a third pricing tier with additional features or services, website users are more likely to opt for the middle option. The decoy makes the middle option appear more appealing, positioning it as the “best value” choice.
Subscription Plans: By offering a higher-priced subscription plan with added benefits that most users won’t need, the mid-tier plan seems more attractive, driving more conversions.
Product Comparison: When presenting product or service options, highlighting the benefits of a particular option by strategically positioning it alongside a decoy that lacks those benefits will convince users to choose the option with the features they desire.
Call-to-Action Buttons: The decoy effect drives user behaviour towards specific actions. For instance, placing a decoy call-to-action button next to the desired one can make the latter stand out more and attract more clicks.
Content Consumption: Blogs can apply the decoy effect to promote specific blog articles by placing them next to less compelling options. This can guide users towards content that aligns with the website’s objectives.
Understanding and harnessing the power of cognitive biases like the decoy effect can be a game-changer in crafting effective and user-friendly websites.
However, while the decoy effect can be a powerful tool, manipulating website users into making decisions that don’t genuinely benefit them can erode trust and harm the user experience. That’s why transparency and ensuring that the decoy options presented are still valuable and relevant to users is strongly recommended.