Unlocking the Power of Design to Help Users Make Smart Decisions

Users are faced with decision making on websites every day. The decision-making process can be much more complicated than it seems, and poor decision-making can lead to user dissatisfaction, decreased sales, and damage to brand value. For this reason, it is critical that designers focus on decision-making throughout the entire UX workflow.

UX, from a decision-making point of view, means focusing on user context and individual needs. How does the immediate decision fit into the user’s broader goals? What is influencing their decision? Do they have enough information to make an informed decision that they won’t regret?

Decision making can be complex, and is made more problematic when users do not have enough information to make a decision. UX designers can address this by communicating all possible options and outcomes and providing visual cues to make decision making more intuitive.

Tip 1: Structure Decisions Around User Needs

A decision structure is a framework in which a user can make a choice. For example, should they continue to explore a site or abandon it? A good decision-making structure is transparent (meaning that the options available and the consequences of each choice are clear) and consistent so that the next decision is easier to make.

The mistake too many designers make is to structure decisions around company needs rather than user needs.

Consider the issue of online flower sales. From the florist’s perspective, an order is received and then shipped based on the customer’s preferred shipping options. From the company’s point of view, it makes sense to offer a range of bouquets, followed by the delivery options available. And that is how most e-commerce sites structure the decision making process.

However, for the person who has forgotten about Valentine’s day, delivery options are the most important because late-day flowers are worse than gas station flowers. In that case, the shipping options — especially an assurance that delivery can be made within a specific time period — should precede the selection of the product.

By designing decision structures around customer needs, you are more likely to provide a positive user experience.

Tip 2: Make Clear Decisions

Data doesn’t affect humans the same way it affects algorithms, but if designers can express data in a way that makes sense to the human brain, we’ll have more information, and be able to make decisions i. in a more logical, algorithmic way.

This is where UI design comes into its own. Effective UI design can make sense of complex data with color and hierarchy to highlight data critical to the customer’s current task. What designers need to do is edit the data constructively.

One important technique is to focus on context. Presenting data in context makes it easier for a person to understand the information being given. For example, if you sell a product at a discount, always present the original price alongside the discounted price, and even better, highlight how much the user is saving.

Tip 3: Reward Decision Making

People are pretty easy to manipulate – hence the prevalence of black-hat UX techniques littering the web. Different chemicals are released into a user’s system when good things happen – which is why gaming machines light up when you put money into them. One of the simplest ways to motivate users to take action is to reward them with positive chemicals in their system every time they do so.

Because we are not using black hat techniques, we do not want to reward a particular choice – which would be compulsive – we want to reward the decision (any decision), no matter how small. Even something as simple as a nice maneuvering position on a link can reward a user for engaging with the UI and build positive emotions.

When users feel good about small decisions (like reading more details about a product), they are more likely to make big decisions (like buying the product).

Tip 4: Repeat Critical Information

The human brain is better at quick decision making. This is because it evolved as a defense mechanism – the quicker you decide something is dangerous, the more likely you are to survive long enough to procreate.

Unfortunately, the human brain is also finite, and we have to make up for this speed somehow. And so the brain favors speed of memory. As a result, we tend to make decisions based on what is in front of us when we make the decision. That’s not to say that we don’t rely on experience at all, but the human brain prefers current input over recalled input.

If you want a user to make an informed decision, make sure that all the most important information is in front of them at all times. For example, if you want to reduce cart abandonment on an e-commerce site, make sure the product list is detailed enough so that the user doesn’t have to rely on remembering why they chose to add the item to the cart to complete it. the check out.

Tip 5: Build Confidence With Graceful Error Handling

Error handling is one of the most important aspects of UI design because try as you might, you will not be able to design an interface that cannot be misused, abused or broken by a user. Anyone who has done extensive user testing will tell you that users often break things simply to see if they can. They are like babies, testing boundaries to find out where their limits are.

And so, if you design a website that handles errors gracefully, you enable users to explore without fear of irreparable damage, and they’re much more likely to make a decision.

It can be as simple as giving the user a way to undo a decision. A simple pop-up that asks, “Are you sure?” It’s a great way to reassure a user that their choices won’t have lasting consequences.

Helping Users Make Smart Decisions

Decision-making is a complex process — there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The key to making decision making easier for your users is to remember that good UX is not about forcing decisions; it’s about giving the user the information they need to make an informed decision of their own.

By structuring decisions around user needs, presenting information clearly, rewarding decision making, repeating critical information, and handling errors gracefully, you can help users make decisions that benefit them yourself and your client’s business goals. It all starts with understanding the decision-making process — then it’s a matter of finding ways to work within those parameters.

Image featured with storyset on Freepik

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By LocalBizWebsiteDesign

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