We all want control. As humans, we are all most comfortable when we feel in control of ourselves and of the environment we live in. So, when developing a platform, a strategist must keep in mind that keeping users in control is one of the important principles of User Interface design.
Let’s deconstruct this a little bit. Let’s delve into the “why” this notion of “keeping users in control” is so important:
1. To make the user feel good about himself
Self-efficacy is an essential component to living a healthy social life. There is a reason why people like people who make them feel good about themselves. Make your web visitors feel good about themselves and this will increase the chances of them hanging around and buying into your brand.
2. To allow the user to easily achieve his goals and objectives
Self-efficacy is dependent on many complex factors, but it essentially refers to the belief in one’s capability to organize and execute a particular course of action (Bandura, 1977). So the important thing to keep in mind is that your choices should allow the users to feel they are in control and that they’ve achieved their goals and objectives.
3. Because the mind saves energy where it can. Simplicity is key!
Self-efficacy and a sense of control can only be achieved if actions are intuitive and feel effortless. The brain likes to take shortcuts as often as it possibly can in order to conserve precious energy (check out Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow). So when consuming content on a platform, performing an action, or browsing to locate a sought after item feels natural and effortless, you’ve succeeded. You’ve prevented the user’s mind from devoting attention resources to the considerations of routine behavior, like the reasoning behind their interaction with the interface, thus freeing the mind for more important decisions: buying your stuff.
4. So brush up on your semiotics and semantics
In order for actions to feel intuitive and effortless, redundant, obvious, familiar and easily comprehensible signs and symbols must be employed. Browsing and navigating through a platform must feel like such a natural action, so that the individual doing it can focus on the task at hand (the reason why they came to the website in the first place).
5. And don’t forget to think about context!
I know, we are obviously not mind-readers… it is difficult to predict the socio-cultural baggage of all internautes, difficult to predict what makes each user feel they are in control. Especially since feeling in control depends on where we are in our cheminement, our decision-making process. Ah-ha! This is why we build personas… ;-)
Stay tuned for my next post for some tips and tricks on how to build efficient personas to base your marketing funnel and your UX on.