The Cognitive Biases that Infest Your Website Redesign

which of your cognitive biases are killing your conversion rate

I state that, “A redesign is a big ball of bias-driven assumptions” in my September Marketing Land column The Biases that Drive Crazy Decisions. A large part of the column is dedicated to the biases found in website redesigns. These include Pro-innovation Bias, Stereotyping, Overconfidence and Blind-spot Bias.

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Of these, the most fascinating has to be the Pro-innovation Bias. You can see its influence all over the web. This is the bias that makes us choose to do something because it’s new, cool or innovative.

In the 1990s, we had GIF animations, blinking and scrolling text, and any number of fonts appearing on pages.

Certified Carpet Cleaners Bubble Animation
Sometimes, you just need to start over.

These were implemented for no other reason than because we could.

When carousels, or sliders were added to Web templates, they began to appear everywhere, despite the fact that they tend to hurt conversion. We’re still getting rid of them one site at a time.


We’ve recently survived a short bout with parallax scrolling sites. Fortunately, this trend seems to be waning on business sites.

Parallax animations
Parallax animations are distracting and don’t help conversions.

These techniques seem to be built to serve the designer’s ego at the expense of the potential buyer.


More recently, we’re seeing a pro-innovation bias with the proliferation of “flat” design template. These designs result in long, banded pages. I recently reviewed 47 WordPress templates. All but two were in this flat style.

You may find this post difficult to read. It is. It is a collection of design choices made under the influence of the pro-innovation bias. This is only one of twenty I researched.

My Marketing Land column uncovers several more biases that may be infecting your website.

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Brian Massey is the Founder and Conversion Scientist™ at Conversion Sciences. He is the author of Your Customer Creation Equation. His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses were developed over almost 20 years as a computer programmer, entrepreneur, corporate marketer, international speaker and writer.

Feature image by ethanhickerson via Compfight cc and adapted for this post.