Increase your sales with the Von Restorff effect

November 30, 2022 - Frédérique Biau

8 minutes

A 230% increase in click-through rate for your online store.

Yes, you read that right.

That's what you can get with the Von Restorff effect when you create an online store in a fast, efficient and intelligent way. Behind this mysterious name lies the method used by many websites, based on a cognitive bias of the human brain, to boost your online sales.

You are probably already frowning, so let's see it more thoroughly.

The Von Restorff effect: what is it?

You want to launch your business? Find out how you can use the Von Restorff method to sell on the internet. Hedwig Von Restorff was a young doctor of psychology when she highlighted some specific aspects of human memory.

Based in Berlin, Von Restorff first brought to light what she called the “isolation effect”, or “distinctiveness principle”. This consists in highlighting a detail on a background that is plain or cluttered, and in analyzing the human memory responses

For example, among a multitude of images, one is upside down. Your brain will tend to remember the upside down image, because it is in an unusual situation.

Von Restorff effect

It is important to note that the human eye and brain are constantly looking for visual breaks. This is what is called “interruptions in habits”.

But then, why does the brain remember the unusual?

Indeed, we often hear that the brain likes geometry and symmetry. This is true.

However, it will not always remember geometric shapes because they are usual. On the other hand, an element that is different from the others is perceived by the brain as a threat: so it will memorize it instantly.

This cognitive bias would allow the brain to remember something more quickly. This method can therefore be beneficial for your online store.

But then…

The most important thing to remember about the Von Restorff effect is that it can be used to make the human brain remember things better.

Von Restorff

Thus, it is often used in marketing to guide users on a website to highlight the key information on your website. They will be intrigued, curious and will keep your brand in their mind.

Moreover, if you want to modify your online store to get even more results, this method has several advantages:

  • It is very easy to set up,

  • It allows you to improve your site without weighing it down,

  • It can increase your click rate up to 230%

Advantages of the Von Restorff effect

The Von Restorff effect seems to be the best strategy to improve your online store and boost your online sales.

Now let's get practical: how to use the Von Restorff effect?

How to apply the Von Restorff effect to your shop?

You will see that using the Von Restorff effect to increase your online sales is actually much easier than it seems. All the elements of your e-commerce website can be modified and improved by using this cognitive bias.

Here are all the points to consider when using the Von Restorff effect, and how to proceed:

Call-to-action buttons

First step: CTA creation. Indeed, call-to-action buttons are essential in your strategy and must be remembered by users.

The Von Restorff effect can help to achieve this goal and is very easy to use with a button.

Indeed, you just have to change the color and…

… That's all!

Of course, you have to add attractive and enticing words to your call-to-action button, in order to be fully effective. This way, growing your sales becomes a breeze.

call-to-action buttons

Textual content

When it comes to textual content, you can proceed in exactly the same way. When creating an online store, this method can be applied to titles, your homepage, or it can be used in the product descriptions.

This way you can easily highlight your value proposition, your product, or your vision.

Just remember to choose a color that stands out from your website's theme. It is about creating a break, an unusual feeling, so that visitors remember your website or company.

If you have a blog in addition to your online store, avoid using color as a visual cue. This can limit the memory usage and ultimately harm you.

Videos and images

For images and videos, it may seem more complicated.

Indeed, you can't just change color like for your text and call-to-action buttons. It requires more time and investment, but it is quite possible to apply this method to your visual content.

And here's how:

  • Green screen videos

Green screen is the best way to add nice animations to videos.

However, it requires having the right equipment to make this kind of video that is more effective than face-to-camera videos. If you don't have a green background, you can add pictograms and animations to your video to create an unusual feel.

marketing strategy

  • A surprising image

An upside down image, an inverted image, a much modified image... Once again, you have to create something unusual, in order to make your image the one to remember and make the user click.

  • An animated GIF

GIFs are increasingly used in marketing to convey messages, while surprising the user.

Once again, these GIFs should be used sparingly, so as not to exaggerate and lose credibility in the eyes of the world.

Auditory stimuli

Finally, you can also play with sounds. Sounds can be interesting to surprise the human brain.

For example, you can add a sound to your button, or to your homepage.

Adding a sound, if done well, can really create something unusual and make the user remember your company or brand.

The possibilities related to the Von Restorff effect are still numerous: animation at mouseover, instant color change, surprising design elements…

You now know how to use the Von Restorff effect.

To perfect your expertise and apply it in the best possible way, let's take a look at a practical case.

How to use the Von Restorff effect: case study

Many websites use the Von Restorff effect: for example, Alan.

Indeed, the website homepage has many examples of this effect, which allows the user to remember the message well.

We will divide this example in three parts:

  • The textual content,

  • The clickable buttons,

  • And the background brightness.

Textual content that is easy to remember

Alan's homepage is both colorful and clean.


Indeed, the text font is black, and the background is colored. However, when you scroll down to read the company's values, here is what you can see:

Alan values

The title has two colors, as well as the subtitle: black and green, or black and orange. The orange color is completely unusual compared to the website's graphic.

Thus, the user automatically remembers the words "at your fingertips" and thus, by extension, the ease of use of Alan which is their main argument.

You will notice that this method is used for each paragraph of the homepage. When finished reading, the user remembers that this insurance solution is:

  • Easy to use

  • Accessible to all

  • Transparent

And, all of this, simply by changing the color!

Call-to-action button design

The second use of the Von Restorff effect is the call-to-action buttons.

Just like the textual content, the color of the clickable buttons stands out from the rest of the website.

Alan website

Indeed, the buttons are all blue.

And this, for two reasons:

  • This color stands out from the green used throughout the theme and makes them easier to remember,

  • This color is complementary to the orange that was used to highlight Alan's main argument.

The orange color used previously to increase the memorization of information stands out even more with the blue buttons.

Here, the cognitive bias is perfectly included in the strategy of the company.

Use your website background color

Color changes in buttons and text are obvious applications of the method.

However, it is also possible to use it in a more subtle way, on the background of your website. Here, the brand uses it on their homepage, to highlight their logo.

By using a gradient background, and not a plain one like we are used to seeing, the company highlights their very simple logo. Moreover, the background is slightly dynamic which, again, is perceived as unusual and is therefore better memorized.

You've got it: using the Von Restorff effect is both simple and devilishly effective to make your website more dynamic. This can be applied to your homepage, and your product descriptions, in order to boost your sales, or your blog, without requiring a great effort.

Before you start updating your website, there is one last thing you should know...

Warning about the Von Restorff effect

Note that there is a counter-effect to this phenomenon.

Your attention and memory can be monopolized by the Von Restorff effect.

Thus, the rest of the information may sink into oblivion. In the end, your visitor may remember less.

This method should therefore be used intelligently and sparingly to avoid the opposite extreme: bad memorization. To be effective, show your site to your friends and ask them to tell you what they remembered.

You now know everything about the Von Restorff effect, from its discovery to its applications.

On your marks, get set, memorize!

Frédérique Biau
Editor and translator
I am passionate about science fiction, new technologies, writing and art in general. I started my career as a Cultural Manager. It is with pleasure and enthusiasm that I am a writer and web translator with 9 years of experience. ✍️

Last update: November 30, 2022

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