Posts tagged ux design
How Choice Architecture Can Make an Impact

By Marlon Fuentes | Design Strategist, verynice

Let's face it. We don't always make the best decisions for our own well-being. And how can we blame ourselves? We're biased humans, not artificial intelligence. And so the question becomes, what are the factors that affect our decision making and if we agree that better choices should not only be made, but encouraged, what can we do as designers, policy makers, and executives, to create better outcomes? The answer can be found through the study of behavioral economics and what Chicago Booth Professor, Richard Thaler describes as "choice architecture." 

If you are in charge of choice sets, you are an architect.

If you are the food services director at a cafeteria and have the opportunity to influence where the fresh fruits and processed snacks are located, you'll have some decisions to make. Same goes for health workers designing anti-smoking programs or urban planners who want to achieve, healthier, cleaner cities. You get the idea.

In each of these cases, the choice architect has decisions to make about how they will lay out a set of choices. Does the food services director optimize for profit? Do they leave it up to their line staff to decide based on what looks best in the space? Or do they arrange food choices in a way that optimizes for healthier eating? Even doing nothing at all is a decision though often described as negligence in the worst of cases. 

Should smoking be banned or can we successfully encourage people to not smoke at all? Does adding a lane to the 405 freeway in L.A. reduce traffic? Or do shared mobility centers, and heftier parking fee's create more users of public transportation? 

Each of these scenarios involves human decision making, and unfortunately, while the right choice may seem blatantly obvious, many people make less than optimal decisions. While heuristics, or what is commonly referred to as "rules of thumb", can help us solve problems faster through mental shortcuts, they can also lead to cognitive biases that point us in the wrong direction.  

There's no such thing as neutral design. 

One of the most important things to take away from this is that as choice architects,  like architects in the industrial sense, must embrace the idea that "everything matters." Even the decision of where to put a drinking fountain can have subtle influences on how people interact with a building. Failure to be intentional about design can lead to poor outcomes, sometimes subtle, sometimes devastating. 

Design thinking for better outcomes.

Design is not only about making things desirable, but also feasible.  In urban design, we see this as the invitations created that can motivate people to take alternative forms of transit. 
If the set of choices for getting to work are: 1. Taking public transit 2. Driving to work 3. Riding a bike, we can look to motivators that lead to more desirable behavior.

Such motivators include cost savings, seamless experiences, illuminated sidewalks, and livelier spaces among others. In essence, we must encourage biased individuals to overcome impulses that loudly whisper to them, "busses are for people who can't afford a car" (representativeness bias) or the idea that driving is inherently better (choice-support bias).

A great example of how design can uncover ways to overcome bias can be seen in how the CARES (Committed Action to Reduce and Smoking) Program managed to decrease smoking by creating a savings program that allowed potential non-smokers to deposit the money they would have otherwise spent on cigarettes in a bank account. After 6 months, if the user tested negative for tobacco, they could keep the money. Results from MIT's Poverty Action Lab showed that opening up an account resulted in a 53% higher likelihood of quitting, a much higher return than using nicotine patches. 

The sweeping popularity of design thinking in the business and social sector is no coincidence given our uncanny ability as designers to uncover root problems, and solve using inventive approaches that lead to innovation. Do you have a challenge for us ? Let's get to work! We're on a mission to make the world a better place. 

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Marloneconomics, ux design
School on Wheels: Highlighting a Brand Through UX Design

A great organization  should have an equally fantastic website… but that isn’t always the case, as most of us have experienced at one time or another. It’s especially crushing when a nonprofit that effectively serves a cause we love is being held back by a site that is dull or difficult to navigate. This was the case with our recent clients, School on Wheels. Their mission could not be more noble or their execution more on target— they provide academic help to children who are homeless or living in shelters and foster care in Southern California.

When School on Wheels approached us for a simple site refresh, we soon discovered that a quick update wasn’t going to be enough to boost their message and reach more users. Because so many different users visit the website, their content was dense and the site hierarchy was often misleading. In order to give School on Wheels a truly user friendly and well-branded site, we needed to take a deeper dive into organizing their information.

The first piece of our solution was a comprehensive workshop in which we worked with School on Wheels to better understand the needs of their site users. We all took part in an exercise that categorized all the content from their current site onto index cards — by dividing the information into categories that we could physically group and move around, we were able to better understand how each part of the site relates to the others. This activity is not only important for our team to understand the site content but also for our clients to think critically about their website and its function. This exercise enabled our team to turn almost 70 pages of information from the site into just five main pages accompanied by a logical grouping of pages in the footer. Together, these elements formed an organized site map with a clear hierarchy.

In addition to the information architecture, our design also played a big role in creating a streamlined, usable site that highlights both School on Wheels’ mission and adds consistency to the brand. By offsetting the playful, bright color palette and youthful typeface with a very simple layout, we were able to draw users directly to the mission statement and images of the children who benefit from School on Wheels’ tutoring services. Our goal was to funnel visitors to the site directly into their desired pathway, whether that’s to donate, volunteer, or simply to find more information on the mission and programs.

At verynice, we know a streamlined and approachable site does more than just provide users with a good experience. By creating a site that School on Wheels can use to funnel visitors into their network as volunteers, donors, and advocates, we hope to empower them to grow their community of support— and effectively expand their mission to provide more tutoring services to underserved and homeless children.

Credit List:
Project Lead/Strategic Direction: Matthew Manos
Design Direction: Kate Manos
Art Direction/Design Lead: Alisa Olinova
Design: Josiah Pak, Jessica Nam, Jean Pongsai, Elisa Michelet
Project/Accounts Manager: Noah Goldberg-Jaffe

We love creating good UX design at verynice. Learn more about our work and the services we offer, right here

UX Design for the Greater Good: The Climate Registry

It seems intuitive that the websites most pleasing to use are also the most minimal. After all, when you visit a site, you don’t want to sift through a bunch of superfluous content to find what you need. However, these two characteristics aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have a multitude of content serving many different users and still have a clean, easy-to-use website. How? A good UX design. When a website allows its users to easily locate the content that is relevant to them and bypass the rest, it doesn’t matter how much information it contains.

A sample of our finished product for TCR

A sample of our finished product for TCR

We recently had the privilege of working with The Climate Registry (TCR), a nonprofit organization that designs and operates greenhouse gas reporting programs all over the world and assists organizations in measuring and reporting their carbon usage. The information that TCR provides, such as toolkits, webinars, and best practices in reporting, is vital to helping its members manage and reduce their emissions. All of this information is accessible through their website. However, when TCR approached verynice, their website was complex and difficult to navigate, so it was not serving as the valuable resource it needed to be.

When a website contains an overwhelming amount of information that is not translating to its users (despite being very valuable)— this is where UX design comes to the rescue. To make sure users would easily find the content that TCR indented for them, we completely overhauled the site’s information architecture. This began with a conversation about the content itself, so we could gain at least the high-level understanding we needed to better organize it.  It was also vital for us to understand the hierarchy of the information: What content would users need to access more frequently? Which was more specific?

Once we had a full grasp on the content and how each item was related, we created simple, clear design direction that reflects TCR’s focus reducing emissions and improving the climate. By using three levels of navigation, we were able to prioritize information according to users’ needs. This enabled TCR’s members to access their most needed content without having to sift through multiple, irrelevant pages first.  

We were also able to implement an infographic to help members better understand their programs and benefits without having to sift through paragraphs of text. In areas that are particularly information-dense, serving multiple purposes, we recategorized information and made it searchable. For example, we created an easy to use search function for TCR's list of members, also organizing it alphabetically and by sector. In order to help organizations understand relevant government protocols more efficiently, we also organized the downloadable government protocol docs in reverse chronological order.

The Climate Registry website is just one example of how good UX design can be impactful beyond its direct effect on website users. A UX design that streamlined TCR’s academic, information-dense website, allowed them to better serve their members, helping them reduce emissions and be more transparent in their greenhouse gas reporting.

To see what else we can do with UX design and for more samples of our work in general, please visit our website