Notes on Colleen Roller’s Designing for Explicit Choice

from the 5/25/15 blog post by Colleen Roller on smashingmagazine, link here.

When designing forms, it’s better to design for explicit choices with possible outcomes included:

  • “I want to enroll in a 401(k) plan and take advantage of the employer match.”
  • “I don’t want to enroll in a 401(k) plan and don’t want to take advantage of the employer match.”

Why this format?

  • Users are unlikely to seek out more information to inform their decision
  • With less information, users are risking more and thus are less likely to make a selection that changes the current status quo
  • Users are much more motivated by ways to avoid loss than to realize gains
  • Robust research shows users are unlikely to change the status of a checkbox (whether checked or unchecked) –i.e. *checkbox here* “I want to enroll in the 401(k) plan” is not the most effective design possible

Be sure to check out the post for more details and links to associated research!

Colleen’s bio:

Colleen Roller has many years of experience in website design and UX research. One of her primary interests is in designing for decision making. She is a published writer on this topic, with articles appearing in UXmatters, UX Magazine, and the Loop11 Blog. She has also presented to corporate audiences such as Bank of America, Fidelity and VistaPrint, as well as for the UXPA and as an invited speaker at Bentley University. She is forever fascinated with the workings of the human mind, and with the art and science of designing for it.


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