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Fluency & Accuracy in Design

I'm currently reading Elements of Choice by behaviorial economist, Dr. Eric Johnson, and he spends a great deal of time discussing how web design impacts behavior. There is a lot to unpack, but a couple of key terms he uses are: Fluency and Accuracy.

Fluency is presenting only the relevant information in an easily digestible fashion. He used the example of NY State's COVID website which listed the name of the Governor on each page; something unnecessary when you're looking for important information on a virus that might kill you.

Accuracy is the ability of the user to get what they actually want. In web design, this can be huge in things such as setting the default selections. He gives the example of iJustine who signed up for an unlimited text and data plan with AT&T when the first iPhones were released. Her first statement was sent in a box and was 300 pages long listing every text and all the times she'd used data that month with a $0.00 at the end of each line since she was on the unlimited plan. It turns out the person designing the page set the default to itemized invoicing rather than an overview invoice or a digital invoice. A 300 page invoice for each customer was neither what AT&T nor the customer wanted, but she'd selected it as she was clicking "Next" through the signup pages.

So, when you're designing a webpage, ask yourself "Am I filling the page with irrelevant information or only what the users need even they need it?" and "Will my users get what they really want?"

Sometimes less "fluency" is necessary to increase accuracy. Even if it's in the ordering of options, you're impacting what users will decide. Use the power wisely and in a way where you won't leave them disappointed.

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