Von Restorff Effect

Image created with Midjourney. Image prompt:
Image created with Midjourney. Image prompt: Visualize a 2D minimalist scene with a row of identical grey circles. Among them, there's one bright colored circle standing out from the rest. Above this scene, a brain icon is depicted, with a thought bubble connected to the bright colored circle, indicating it being remembered

In the world of cognitive psychology, the Von Restorff effect, also known as the isolation effect, is a fascinating phenomenon. It predicts that when multiple similar objects are present, the one that differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered. This principle has profound implications not just in the field of memory research, but also in various practical applications, including the creation of digital software products.

Real-World Application of the Von Restorff Effect


In advertising, the Von Restorff effect is often used to make a product or brand stand out. By creating a unique and distinctive ad amidst a sea of similar ads, companies can increase the chances of their product being remembered by consumers.


In education, teachers often use this effect to highlight important information. They might use different colors, fonts, or symbols to make key points stand out in their teaching materials, making it easier for students to remember these points.


In retail, the Von Restorff effect can influence how products are displayed. A product that is displayed differently from others on the shelf, whether through packaging, positioning, or lighting, is more likely to catch a customer's attention and be remembered.

The Von Restorff Effect in Digital Software Creation

In the context of digital software creation, understanding and leveraging the Von Restorff effect can significantly enhance the user experience and effectiveness of the software:

User Interface Design

In designing user interfaces, key elements that need user attention can be made to stand out by using different colors, sizes, shapes, or animations. This will make these elements more memorable and guide users towards desired actions.

Information Presentation

When presenting information, crucial data can be highlighted using distinctive fonts, colors, or graphical elements. This can aid users in remembering and retrieving important information.

Error Messages

To improve user experience, error messages can be designed to be distinctive and noticeable. By making these messages stand out from the regular text, users are more likely to notice and remember them, leading to quicker issue resolution.

Brand Identity

In a crowded software market, a unique and distinctive design or branding can make an app stand out and be more memorable to users, increasing the chances of the app being chosen and used.


In conclusion, the Von Restorff effect offers valuable insights for creating memorable and effective digital software products. By making key elements stand out and be distinctive, software developers and designers can guide user attention, enhance information recall, and ultimately, create a more engaging and user-friendly product.


The theory was coined by German psychiatrist and pediatrician Hedwig von Restorff (1906–1962), who, in her 1933 study, found that when participants were presented with a list of categorically similar items with one distinctive, isolated item on the list, memory for the item was improved.