Illustration by Mallory Haack
Choice architecture is the holistic presentation and framing of information throughout a decision making process. It’s the design of how you frame and display information and often extends into the design of the product or service. It goes beyond filtering and sorting and dives into presenting information that users will understand, giving them the support they need to move through the decision making process. This series (three articles) will introduce you to choice architecture, principles and “behavior variables” to get you started, and lastly how to best communicate decision making with diagrams.
Decision Making Conundrum
The research studies by economist and social psychologist Sheena Iyengar and the psychologist Barry Schwartz provide insight into the complexity of choice and decision making. Dr. Iyengar’s jam study on choice overload and Dr. Schwartz’s work on “The Costs of Seeking Alternatives” made a splash in the business world when they were able demonstrate that increasing choices can prevent most customers from making a purchase. Additionally, for those who do make a purchase, they are less satisfied with their purchase.
Think about that: a person who wants to make the best decision may be drawn to an abundance of options. They will spend more time and resources choosing an option and will be less satisfied with their purchase afterwards. This problem may be minor when trying to find the best pair of jeans, but it becomes a major issue when making important or expensive decisions. Consider self-employed workers looking for health insurance for their family, or people deciding to go back to school to improve their career options. Choice architecture helps people make complex decisions, without which would require them to understand specialized information and leaves them to predict a future outcome based on limited information.
Enhancing your Design Strategy with Choice Architecture
The article continues on to describe how our standard filtering patterns aren’t enough to provide assistance to people who need to make a complex decision. Read the full article on medium.