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Decision Architecture


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#1 iamlost

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:31 PM

There is no end to the disciplines that a dedicated webdev can find useful, fascinating, challenging... :) One that is often overlooked is that of Decision Architecture: influencing the outcomes of decisions by which and how choices are presented.
Note: also known as Choice Architecture.
Note: successful usage changes outcomes, i.e. higher average sale, not people's underlying preferences.

If you are serious about conversion optimisation you need to understand and, to some degree, utilise Decision Architecture and associated concepts, i.e. persuasive technology.

The reason for bringing this up now is that Colleen Roller has written a complimentary piece, Decision Architecture in the Wild: A Real-Life Example, UX Matters, 19-September-2011, to an article she wrote last year, Decision Architecture: Helping Users Make Better Decisions, UX Matters, 08-November-2010.

The latest walks through a real life decision influencing process.

With a $9.99 coupon in hand, we set out...
...
The studio had architected the decision-making process so we would move from making many easy decisions in the beginning, to making progressively more difficult decisions later on.
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...served the purpose of building our investment of time. This was important. ...as people invest more time in something, they become more committed to it and less willing to walk away.
...
There were two other very important decision architecture concepts that came into play during this whittling down process: loss aversion and anchoring.
...
the strategy leveraged the fact that, as an outcome of the picture-selection process, we already thought of the entire collection as a package, and we already saw it as being ours because we had created it ourselves.
...
...a safety net—a means of minimizing any potential feeling of loss due to poor choices that might later lead to regret.
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...we now had the $300 price tag in our heads as the anchor, or reference point, against which we could compare all other potential package deals. ...had established a starting point for a further whittling down process, thereby setting into motion another series of decisions involving loss...
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It was intriguing to see how the software they used to present the photos coincided with and supported the overall sales process.
...
In short, the CD-ROM would be the stopping point where customers would be able to legitimately justify the decision to buy a package deal that was, perhaps, more than they had originally planned to spend.


The article from last year is a general view of website affect and it's effect on users' decisions.

For the most part, we create Web sites to get users to do something—for example, to make a purchase, donate to a cause, or sign up for our service. It is our expectation that users will make decisions about how to proceed. But are we designing for optimal decision making by users?
...
Recently, scientists have greatly advanced our understanding of how human decision making actually works.
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This research has revealed that the way people actually decide is very different from our common assumptions about how we decide.
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Decision outcomes are dependent upon the contexts within which people make decisions. Context includes factors like the complexity of a decision, how expert a decision-maker is, how many options there are, how the options compare or relate to one another, the ordering of options, the wording that expresses the options, and many others.
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People process information primarily through two mental modes, or channels, that operate in parallel. The first mode of information processing occurs primarily on the subconscious level; the second, at the conscious level.
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...context is so important to decision outcomes, it’s essential to clarify and affirm that there is no such thing as a neutral design.
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To get good decision outcomes, we must design for them.
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The goal of decision makers is to get the best possible outcome with the least possible effort. Our goal for decision architecture should be to create contexts for decision making in which users perceive that they’ve achieved the best possible outcome with the least amount of effort possible.


---How structured is your site/page/content at guiding visitors' choices - not simply about the site but through proffered conversions?
---How much thought have you invested in optimising each conversion, from the micro to the macro, including cross fertilisation where appropriate?
---How much research/reading have you accomplished/scheduled in this revenue enhancing area?
---How much analysis have you done on your conversion funnels, referer conversion numbers, etc.
---ad nauseum.

You require structure and stories. Structure is the bones, stories the flesh. Together they persuade and having done so both business and visitor are richer. When done right.

#2 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:12 PM

I really must remember to not read your incredibly thought-provoking (aka mind-scrambling) posts late at night when my brain has processed all it can possibly process for the day.

You really love putting my brain cells through the blender, don't ya?

Decision Architecture: Is that like flipping a coin off the top of the Empire State Building, and seeing if it kills person A or person B when it lands?

:)

#3 DCrx

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:57 PM

Really great. Captology and Desirability design.

Great nine years ago. Still great.

Question: When will UXers start doing it?

#4 iamlost

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 01:20 AM

flipping a coin off the top of the Empire State Building, and seeing if it kills person A or person B

What you are describing is an A/B test :)
For a multi-variant test drop a hand full of coins, each a different denomination... :)

Sorry to have provided the one thought too far or at least too late ... but if I hadn't pressed 'post' when done who knows to where it might have disappeared...

Great nine years ago. Still great.

To my mind that is one of the proofs of a best practice.

Question: When will UXers start doing it?

When they begin to sell ROI.
When it stops being an add-on.
So, probably not anytime soon.

Edited by iamlost, 21 September 2011 - 01:20 AM.


#5 DCrx

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:41 AM

There is too much billable in UX land tied to the fact you get an experience no matter what you do. To test, and open up the potential of failure to produce a particular user experience that was intended risks that billable.

That's why almost any UXer would never stoop to using a method like captology or desirability design. Because there is a method.

And that's why, when I talk to a web shop touting UX, the CEO tells me, "We just do what we think is best." No method. No test. No idea.

That's why Decision Architecture in the Wild: A Real-Life Example, it's all observation and speculation ...no test and no user. You'll notice this guy didn't run variations, did not go to fifteen studios, and did not stray outside the author's own experience.

Paco Underhill and pouring over hours of video footage from cameras watching customers shop is alien to this.

And nothing to tie them to a specific result outside technical deliverables. We installed the CMS. ...The CMS is running. ...Therfore any user experience goal must have been reached. (No need for a user to interrupt and spoil things).

Methinks the lack of ROI will rear its ugly head first. But no worries, the industry will be onto the next vapid buzzword by then.

When these wiseguys start getting called to, for example, lower the rate of refunds or returns, let's see how they do.

Question: Why is it these people, pretty much, soley concern themselves with the web. The basic implication of UX would be to use all media -- the right media type in the right way and right time -- to create a seamless wholistic "user experience." Down to the way the invoices look to the way the phones are answered; from decor to OOBE. (Remember OOBE?)

Spouting the gobbldy gook sounds nice. But scratch the vapid surface, and there is no there there.

Related:

Branding Lunacy To The Max is what we're talking about here. Interaction designers running the same old con branders have run for decades.

Buyology. Experiments? Huh. Variables? Hmmm. ROI? Clear. This has more to do with the user experience than a thousand of these wiseguys.

This is Decision Architecture. UXers are out in left field, muttering to themselves in comparison.

Edited by DCrx, 21 September 2011 - 08:33 AM.


#6 iamlost

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:10 AM

(Remember OOBE?)

What I remember is OOBF.

it's all observation and speculation ...no test and no user. You'll notice this guy didn't run variations, did not go to fifteen studios, and did not stray outside the author's own experience

But... for my purposes it served as a walk through of a decision architecture model in use. Which may be all that the author was interested in illustrating.

You are correct, of course, that to show that that one experience was not an anomaly and to prove consistent value contrasted to alternatives including a control much more would be required. Would be nice to know which photo studio and who designed (or not) their conversion process. But then I love to read, love the details... I wonder what that articles readership is, what percentage drop out before the end, how many go on to further research on the subject... starting low, declining rapidly, tending to zero?

To test, and open up the potential of failure to produce a particular user experience that was intended risks that billable.

And so are experts laid low and mere human venality exposed.

When these wiseguys start getting called to, for example, lower the rate of refunds or returns, let's see how they do.

They call upon the mystical realm of Social Media... straight out of the box, billed monthly, of course.
:rofl:

Spouting the gobbldy gook sounds nice. But scratch the vapid surface, and there is no there there.

As your further reading illustrates there is considerable there there
BUT
as with SEO the web visible face of UX is glowing with snake oil and charm and few know to look deeper.

Of course much blame can be laid in the laps of independent webdevs and C-level alike for few of either treat their business as an holistic undertaking. I, however, refuse to go silent into their fatuous night.

The Marvelous Web:
A wonder to behold it was with many colours bright
And the moment I laid eyes on it, it became my heart's delight.

It went zip when it moved and bop when it stopped whirrrrr when it stood
Still
I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.
---apologies to Tom Paxton for re-titling his 'Marvelous Toy'


#7 DCrx

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 05:41 PM

As a somewhat related aside, you're crusing along, single. You are not taking all that many pictures of yourself, post college.

You get into a relationship, you start taking pictures. Married, children, you better believe you're snapping off photos.

Why?

Decision architecture -- if there was such a thing -- holds that you are persuading yourself that you are in a family unit. Photos are the tool you use to establish you are part of the new unit.

Just sayin'

User Experience point two. Friend of mine buys a photo package. Standard photo package. Gets some kind of size no regular store frames come in. Photographer argues it's like how hot dogs come tem to a pack and buns come in either eight or twelve.

User experience design. Photographers are not the masters.

Edited by DCrx, 23 September 2011 - 08:20 AM.




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