Decisions, decisions…. decisions

I was once told there are not easy or difficult decisions, only decisions.

I know, I thought the same.  That person has obviously not stood in front of a Subway menu and tried to select from the options for a sandwich on the day you decide to “try something different”.

Now tell me that an easy decision doesn’t become difficult.

Still the point stands, even more life-changing decisions than what you are having for lunch are just decisions.

I work in two industries for which decisions have to be treated as decisions.  As an agency we pitch for work all the time, the client makes a decision and (hopefully some feedback) you must move on.

Likewise in football there are decisions being taken all the time, and as upsetting as some of them are most football people accept that not all decisions are going to go in their favour…of course I’m definitely talking about those off the pitch.

Effective decision making is a combination of several factors including:

  1. Clear objectives
  2. Facts and figures
  3. Intuition
  4. Cost/Benefit analysis
  5. Feedback/Advice

Some people are mainly “reasoning” decision-makers, balancing up facts and figures to come to a decision.  Other people operate from the base of “intuition”, having a gut-feel on decisions.  This isn’t quite the magical, wishy-washy alternative to reasoning though, as most intuitive decision-makers use a combination of experience and values to come to a decision.  There is always a chance though that these are slightly clouded by personal perceptions that could be wrong.

Most people are a combination of the two.

You’ll have no doubt heard the term User Experience, UX, CX or even UI, particularly when it comes to the design of websites and digital media.  In my opinion UX is simply about decisions.  Developing it further, it is about understanding the decisions that user will have to make in order to give both them and you the desired outcome.

Even in the rapidly maturing web market it is still the instinct of many businesses, particularly when there is a large “committee” involved, to try and stuff all possible choices to a user as early as they can in the process.  In reality the clearer you can make the decision-making process for users, the more likely they are to follow the paths you need them to follow.

There are so many trade “tricks” and design elements that can help create a well-developed experience, most of which should be deployed when and where the design is most appropriate.  However, there are some simple principles that will help you avoid preventing your users from making effective decisions:

  1. Have clear objectives – what are you trying to achieve? What is the true purpose?
  2. Not enough information – users need information (see above decision-maker types), if you are asking them to make decisions without any information then they simply won’t.
  3. Too much information – classic death by committee issue. You may have a million things you want a user to see, but too many options become “analysis paralysis” and stops any user in their tracks.
  4. No emotional attachment – human faces, humour and emotion-tapping statements can all combine to create an immediate emotional connection, giving the user a reason to make a decision.
  5. Vested Interest – you may want a user to buy your top product, but don’t make it look like you are only interested in them if they do.

Creating well thought decision-making structures that take into account all these principles creates great UX.

It means our decisions become just that – decisions.

Simon Brooke is a Director and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk or tweet us @Happy_Creative

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