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Colleen Roller has many years of experience in digital 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 Smashing Magazine, UXmatters, UX Magazine, the Digital Telepathy Blog, and the Loop11 Blog. She is forever fascinated with the workings of the human mind, and with the art and science of designing for it.
As UX professionals, we know the value of conducting usability research. But UX research initiatives — even when designed well — are not perfect. A lab study to test a website, for example, would never perfectly capture a user’s actual behavior in the wild. This is because, inevitably, the research protocol itself will influence the findings.
A lab environment can never replicate the natural environment of the participant, and the mere presence of a research facilitator or moderator creates a dimension of artificiality that can thwart the research goals. They must not only facilitate sessions in such a way that the research goals are achieved, but also balance two challenges that are constantly at odds with each other: keeping the participant within the scope of the study, while allowing the participant to be in the driver’s seat in order to make the experience as realistic as possible.
If you’re a UX designer, you’ve probably designed a lot of forms and web (or app) pages in which the user needs to choose between options. And as a designer, you’re likely familiar with best practices for designing forms. Certainly, much has been written and discussed about this topic. So, you probably know all about how best to label and position form fields and so on for optimal usability.
But have you thought about how the design of a form affects the user’s decision-making? Have you ever considered to what extent the design itself affects the choices people make? As always in design, there are a variety of ways to design a form or web page.