Driving online choice?

Mathew Quilter  

April 23, 2008

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Do we drive choice online or do we simply offer choices? Do we design for specific user types/segments/personas/profiles or similar subsets of humanity or do we pretend to design for all? Do we craft websites with specific click paths in mind or do we assume users will find content via multiple paths? Do we leave a wide open dialog box and ask users to donate whatever they wish or do we prompt them with specific choices and ask them to check one?

All and none might be the obvious answer in each instance. And there is much study and debate over each. That last question might seem a stretch and somewhat out of place, but I don’t think it is. I was reading results of a recent study (more on this study in a later blog), and it clearly shows that users would rather not ask themselves too many questions — in the case of a non-profit that was testing notions as to how best to request donations, users were given the option of providing a number entirely of their own choosing, or to select one of several options. Meaning very simply, users had to enter an actual number in an empty field or they could click one of several boxes. The latter approach saw a higher conversion rate and significantly more revenue per session.

Applying this approach more broadly, those of us who tinker with websites should remember that users would rather not think. Not a new conclusion perhaps. Just a reminder as we continue to refine our methods of second-guessing users.