Naming biases after researchers does not make it easy to remember them (surely there’s a bias for that phenomenon). Luckily there’s another name for the Von Restorff effect: the isolation effect: “An item that sticks out is more likely to be remembered than other items”
Does a UX designer have to know the Von Restorff Effect? Well yes, because we use it all the time:
- It’s the ‘selected’ state of a navigation item
- Or the ‘special offer’ sticker on one item in a product listing
- Or the ‘saved’ icon on the image that was just uploaded to a folder
And so on and on.. Every time we design a special state to distinguish an item from similar ones, we rely on the isolation effect. But use it wisely. It only works if there are only a few different states to choose from. Otherwise, nothing will stand out.