The Zeigarnik Effect Decoded: How to Create UX That Hooks

Discover the Zeigarnik Effect and unlock the secrets to designing addictive user experiences

Have you ever wondered why some experiences stick with us, while others fade into oblivion?

Well, let me introduce you to a fascinating psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect.

This powerful cognitive bias holds the key to creating engaging and unforgettable user experiences.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what the Zeigarnik Effect is all about and discover how you can leverage it to enhance your UX design.

So, buckle up and let’s dive in!

Understanding the Zeigarnik Effect

Understanding the Zeigarnik Effect_

First things first, let’s unravel the mystery of the Zeigarnik Effect.

Named after the psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, this effect refers to our tendency to remember and remain fixated on incomplete tasks or interrupted experiences.

In simple terms, our brains hate unfinished business.

When we leave something unfinished, it creates a mental tension or cognitive itch that nags at us until we find closure.

Zeigarnik Effect explainer video:

Progress Indicators​

Have you ever noticed those loading bars or progress indicators on websites or apps?

They tap into the Zeigarnik Effect by providing users with a sense of ongoing progress.

By visually representing completion percentages, these indicators keep users engaged and motivated.

Whether it’s a file upload, form submission, or content loading, progress indicators alleviate the cognitive itch and communicate that the task is still in progress.

Unread Notifications

Unread Notifications​

Raise your hand if you’ve felt the irresistible urge to check your phone when you see a notification badge or an unread message.

That’s the Zeigarnik Effect in action!

App designers ingeniously utilize this effect by strategically placing unread notifications, creating a sense of curiosity and prompting users to return to the app to complete the task associated with the notification.

Gamification Elements

Gamification Elements​

Games often exploit the Zeigarnik Effect to keep players hooked.

By introducing quests, challenges, and levels, game designers ensure players have a constant stream of unfinished tasks to tackle.

This provides a strong sense of motivation and engagement, as players strive to complete objectives and achieve a feeling of accomplishment.

Incomplete Forms or Surveys

Incomplete Forms or Surveys​

Ever started filling out a form but got interrupted midway?

Chances are, you felt compelled to return and finish it.

UX designers utilise this cognitive bias by strategically breaking longer forms or surveys into multiple steps.

By saving progress and clearly indicating where the user left off, the Zeigarnik Effect keeps users invested in completing the task at hand.

Cliffhangers in Storytelling

Cliffhangers in Storytelling​

In the realm of content-driven platforms or applications, the Zeigarnik Effect can be leveraged through cliffhangers.

Whether it’s a blog series, podcast, or video series, leaving a story or narrative unfinished creates a sense of anticipation and curiosity, enticing users to return for the conclusion.


By incorporating the Zeigarnik Effect into your UX design toolbox, you can create experiences that captivate and engage users on a deeper level.

Whether it’s through progress indicators, unread notifications, gamification, incomplete forms, or cliffhangers in storytelling, the Zeigarnik Effect provides valuable insights into human psychology and behavior.

Remember, it’s not about exploiting or manipulating users.

It’s about understanding their cognitive tendencies and designing experiences that align with their natural inclinations.

So, go forth, experiment, and embrace the power of the Zeigarnik Effect in your UX design journey.

Want more awesome UX laws and principles for digital product designers? Check out our post here.

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Showcase your work with a stunning portfolio template

Looking to update your design portfolio? Check out the amazing portfolio templates for Framer at FolioPharmacy.

Crazy Conversions landing page playbook

Showcase your work with a stunning portfolio template

Looking to update your design portfolio? Check out the amazing portfolio templates for Framer at FolioPharmacy.

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