People have now read and referred to my 2013 column How Do Users Really Hold Mobile Devices? almost too much for my comfort. Why? Because, since I wrote that column, I have continued to do research, put my findings into practice for real products, written additional articles, and presented on that topic. In the years since then, I’ve learned a lot more about how people hold and touch their phones and tablets—a lot of which I did’t expect. And that’s the problem with my old columns. I made some assumptions that were based on observations of the usage of desktop PCs, standards for older types of interactions, and anecdotes or misrepresented data. However, through my later research and better analysis, I’ve been able to discard all of those erroneous assumptions and reveal the truth.
All too often, I see people referring to my oldest, least-accurate columns on this topic. Sometimes readers combine my obsolete data with other out-of-date information, then draw their own incorrect conclusions. I hope put a stop to that now with this updated overview of everything I know about how people interact with touchscreen devices and how you can use that information to design better digital products. Read More
In my last column, “Decision Architecture: Helping Users Make Better Decisions,” I talked about how people make decisions and what affects their decision-making process. Although it’s a common assumption that people are largely goal oriented and know what they want, research on decision making has shown that our preferences are actually quite malleable—especially when we encounter something new.
What affects decision outcomes most is the actual context in which people make decisions. All kinds of things affect decision making—the type of decision someone is making, the decision maker’s level of expertise, the number of options available, the way and order in which options are presented, and many others. This column examines how the number of available options affects the decision-making process. Read More
In my last column, I discussed how the number of options in a choice set affects decision making. In this column, I’ll talk about the implications of a choice set—that is, how the relationships between and among options affect people’s ability to decide.
Let’s begin by addressing a very important reality that carries significant impact on human beings’ ability to make decisions effectively: the concept of relativity, through which people assign value to something—anything—by comparing it to something else. Since we do not possess an inherent ability to judge the value of something in isolation, we determine value by comparing and contrasting one thing to another.
People do not make judgments and decisions in a vacuum. They make them against a backdrop of available options. And a choice set—what the options are and how they relate to each other—is an important aspect of the context in which they make decisions. Read More