Have you ever noticed that how you remember an experience is often based on how it ends? This is known as the peak-end rule. This psychological phenomenon suggests our memories of an event are primarily influenced by the most intense moment and how it ultimately concludes.
The peak-end rule was first discovered by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues. They ran a study where participants submerged their hands in ice-cold water for a specific time and were asked to rate their overall experience. Surprisingly, the time their hands were submerged did not correlate with their ratings. Instead, the water temperature at the end of the experience significantly impacted how they remembered it.
What is Peak-End Rule?
So, what does this mean for our daily lives? How we end an experience can significantly impact how we feel and remember it. This has implications for everything from vacations to business meetings to daily routines. By prioritizing a positive and memorable ending, we can improve our overall satisfaction with the experience and create more positive memories.
Peak-End Rule and Legal Design
For example, a law firm could use the peak-end rule to design a more user-friendly website, client intake process, or even a legal contract. By creating a positive and memorable experience, clients are more likely to feel satisfied with and recommend the service to others.
1. Pay close attention to the most intense point and the final moments (the "end") of the user journey.
You can provide an extra summary at the end of your contracts to ensure everything is clear, or you can put a QR code at the end to direct them to a page or contact address where they can find answers if they have questions. Letting users know you are on their side creates a spacious feeling for that final experience.
2. Identify the moments when your service, product, or contract is most helpful, valuable, or entertaining and design to delight the end user.
It may be helpful to make the clauses that the contracting parties stand to gain or benefit from more understandable and visual, to support the contract in terms of design, or to provide information to help them avoid potential losses.
3. Remember that people recall negative experiences more vividly than positive ones.
The first impression is vital. Suppose your contract seems complex or aesthetically bad. In that case, this creates a perception in people's minds that it is not professionally prepared. No matter how well the content is prepared, you cannot avoid having a bad experience.
Our minds are efficient and economical with how they store information. We remember our past in snapshots that focus on points of intensity and on the last impression of an event. Designing with attention to detail around the important moments of the customer journey, with particular emphasis on the last step, allows you to build digital products that are worth remembering.