In the early 20th century, three German psychologists, Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka tried to explain how the human brain tries to piece together fragments of visual information in order to draw conclusions. The result of their work was Gestalt Psychology – 5 principles of proximity, similarity, closure, continuity, and Prägnanz that are great news for Evil Marketers.
In this short article I will focus on the Gestalt theory of Similarity, which states things which share the same visual characteristics – color, shape, texture, size or even the same orientation, can be interpreted by the brain as belonging together.
Gestalt Similarity can have serious implications for online behavior because we can trick the mind into drawing associations that do not necessarily exist.
For example, let’s say we are promoting a new book release, ‘How to make money online’.
We gather together three images of high-value products – a Rolex watch, a Ferrari and a Mansion. Now, we set each of these three images on a dark blue background. If we then set the cover/mockup of our book on the same color background, a viewer will subconsciously connect all four images together – A Rolex Watch, A Ferrari, A Mansion and your book.
If we want to encourage a user to buy three different products from our store, we can apply the same tactic of linking them together by presenting them in a similar way – same background, similar size of image – and let the visitor’s brain do the rest!
The concept also applies in that we can draw a visitor’s attention to a specific product, or button, or line of text, by presenting it differently to everything else on the page (thing contrasting button color or highlighted text).