As product managers or experience designers, we keep our eyes on making our creations successful, memorable, and pleasurable. So what’s the trick behind?
In this article, we are covering the Peak-end Rule, a psychological heuristic which has a huge impact on experience design and customer behaviour.
According to the peak-end rule, our memory of past experience (pleasant or unpleasant) does not correspond to an average level of positive or negative feelings but to the most extreme point and the end of the episode (Kahneman & Tversky, 1999). The rule developed from findings that showed that evaluations of a past episode seem to be determined by a weighted average of ‘snapshots’ of an experience, thus neglecting its actual duration. These prototypical moments are related to the judgments made when people apply a representativeness heuristic (Frederickson & Kahneman, 1993).
With this background in mind, an event makes its mark in our memories more by what happens at its end than at any prior point. And what happens in between only matters when it intensifies.
Moreover, a modified strategy called Moment of Truth is widely used in service industry, like marketing. So basically, I find it’s worthy of designers’ attention to get the understanding of creating wonderful experiences.
When we make up a story like below, you may find out why it’s essential to learn the heuristic.
One day, you get off walking to work as usual, suddenly, it starts to rain, yet you don’t have an umbrella. Minutes later, a friend spots and comes to you, inviting you to ride with him, and he eventually sends you to your destination, you end up arriving on time.
In this case, the rain is the low point where you feel upset, whereas the help from the friend is on the opposite, plus the final ending of arriving on time. After all, the three parts, two peaks and an end, make us remember, regardless the experience is pleasant or not.
If we draw a curve, the map of how our emotion flows may look like this:
And as we do a math, we can get the overall experience evaluation:
E = (y1-y2) + y3
As mentioned above, y1, y2, y3 are named by MOT(Moment of Truth).
So what’s the takeaway for us designers?
In general, the Peak-end Rule is where we can make efforts on, as we want to create unique experiences and make our digital product stand out.
Let’s look at another case, shopping at IKEA. Here comes the question:
How many of you have toured IKEA just to get an ice cream at the end?
You may notice that the shopping experience at IKEA is kind of unique, there are fewer stuff, you need to carry things out on your own. You are allowed to take a nap wherever you feel like lying on. It takes you walk around the whole location to find a single piece of furniture. And yet, every time you finish your IKEA journey, you get the amazing ice cream right before leaving.
So the end means all for many customers. IKEA has created many details, peaks inside their shops by getting your hands on real items, or making your busy on locating them. More importantly, a wonderful finish is all we have dreamed for, after a long-day shopping.
So what does IKEA sale?
IKEA sales more than its products, but the experience of shopping them.
There is no denying that people rely on all our senses getting an immersive experience, which makes games be one of the best examples applying the Peak-end Rule.
League of Legends and all its kind of MOBA games, have different broadcast stages indicating various peaks, like following:
First-blood, Double-kill, Triple-kill, Quadra-kill, Penta-kill;
Killing spree, Rampage, Unstoppable, Godlike, Legendary;
An enemy has been slained; You have slained an enermy.
Those reflect the stages when you are playing the games, and they keep motivating you towards the victory.
After each game, there must be a result, showing all kills, deaths, supports, and some other details as well. You are able to share with others, which definitely enhance the experience of wining a game.
Hence, by emphasizing the intense moments, and creating a sharable result, games have been making the most of the rule.
Those who have already noticed the potentials behind the rule, are building apps or services which make much sense to our life.
Online survey now supports a small lottery, after finishing the form, everyone gets a chance to win something, which absolutely increases the willingness of taking questions.
Another great application is food delivery, this is well-known in China. Each time you order online, you get a chance to share the so-called red packets to your friends through social media with coupons inside, so next time they have a discount. Sweet!
This flow not only boosts the usage of that app, but also makes the online ordering experience much culturally relevant.
Some of the ending experiences are not that intriguing, so people end up quitting pretty fast, as they cannot find a good reason to stay, or to reopen the app again.
What’s beyond the showcasing matters. We need to take steps to make changes happen in order to improve the user experience of our own digital products.
By implementing the Peak-end Rule, we can focus on these process:
The usability test is vital. Every product has its goals and target market. Finding out whether your idea matches with this rule always comes the first.
Second of all, draw a user journey flow as we always do. Later on, you can easily separate what are the high points and low points from the experience, also, don’t forget to do user research and/or user test to find out the Moment of Truth, and then make efforts on those peaks that matter the most.
Moreover, never forget the ending. It doesn’t mean there must be a happy ending. It is better to create special moments that make the user experience unique and memorable.
Last but not the least, keep iterating by working on peaks, end and MOT. As designers, innovation is not what makes our work special, because that’s the job for innovators and creators. Ultimately, we will be creating the best experience based on what our users really need. And with time changes, we have to keep up the speed, using our creativity and consistency.
Hope we all enjoy being a designer, the role that learns from people, and builds for the people. : )