From Perception to Action Harnessing Anchoring in UX Design

Craig Barber
September 16, 2023
mins read

Today, we delve into the concept of Anchoring Bias and its potential to enhance the design process.

Anchoring Bias, a cognitive bias deeply rooted in human psychology, holds incredible potential for creating engaging and intuitive user interfaces.

So, fasten your seatbelts as we dive into this one!

Understanding Anchoring Bias

Understanding Anchoring Bias​

To begin, let’s demystify Anchoring Bias.

This cognitive bias refers to our tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information presented to us when making decisions or judgments.

This initial “anchor” serves as a reference point, influencing our subsequent thinking and evaluations, even if it may not be objectively relevant or accurate.

Video explainer for Anchoring Bias:

Applying Anchoring Bias to UX Design

Now that we have a solid grasp of Anchoring Bias, let’s explore how it can be harnessed in UX design to create more effective and enjoyable user experiences.

By strategically employing anchoring techniques, designers can guide users’ perceptions, preferences, and decision-making processes.

Anchoring with Pricing and Value Perception

Pricing and Value Perception​

Consider an e-commerce website.

By displaying the original price of a product alongside the discounted price, the initial higher price acts as an anchor.

Consequently, users perceive the discounted price as a great deal and feel more inclined to make a purchase.

This technique has the power to boost conversions and create a positive perception of value.

Anchoring with Progress Indicators

Progress Indicators​

In applications involving multi-step processes, designers can utilise progress indicators that display the completed steps.

By anchoring the users’ progress to a visual representation, such as a progress bar, they provide a sense of accomplishment, reducing anxiety and boosting motivation to complete the task.

Anchoring Feature Differentiation

Feature Differentiation​

When introducing new features or upgrades, designers can anchor users to familiar concepts or existing functionalities.

By building upon what users already know, the learning curve becomes smoother, and users are more likely to embrace and appreciate the new additions.

Anchoring with Limited Options

Limited Options​

Anchoring Bias can also be leveraged when presenting users with a limited set of choices.

By carefully placing the desired option among the available choices, designers can influence users’ decision-making process, leading them to favour the desired choice over others.

Anchoring with Time and Scarcity

Time and Scarcity​

The anchoring effect can be applied to create a sense of urgency or scarcity.

For example, limited-time offers or countdown timers can anchor users to the idea that they must act quickly to secure a deal or avoid missing out, resulting in increased engagement and conversions.


Anchoring Bias holds immense potential in the realm of UX design.

By strategically utilising anchoring techniques, designers can shape users’ perceptions, influence their decision-making processes, and ultimately enhance the overall user experience.

From pricing and value perception to feature differentiation and limited options, the applications of Anchoring Bias are diverse and powerful.

However, it is important to remember that ethical considerations should always guide the use of Anchoring Bias in UX design.

Transparency and respect for users’ autonomy should remain at the forefront of our minds.

The goal is not to manipulate or deceive users but to create intuitive and enjoyable experiences that align with their needs and expectations.

As designers, let’s embrace the power of Anchoring Bias responsibly, leveraging it as a tool to empower users, simplify complex tasks, and foster positive interactions.

By understanding and incorporating the nuances of human psychology, we can continue to push the boundaries of UX design, crafting experiences that truly resonate with and delight users at every touchpoint.

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