Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Designers Responsibility in the Tyranny of Choice

Reducing the number of choices is a good thing ...

"I’m very excited we’ll have Barry Schwartz as the UI 11 Spotlight Plenary speaker this year. He wrote a wonderful book, The Paradox of Choice, which describes the problems we incur when we’re offered too many choices.

Not everyone agrees this is a problem. Scott Anderson, in a 2004 essay, feels Schwartz’s approach will cause us to limit choices, removing what he suggests is an erosion of our freedoms. He quotes a University of Rochester psychology professor, Dr. Edward Deci, who says,

“I am very wary about anyone who wants to take away options from others or limit other people’s opportunities for choice. It amazes me that some psychologists are arguing that we should limit human freedom.”

I guess the questions are this: Is limiting the choice of jams or digital cameras removing our freedoms? Doesn’t the person offering the choice earn some of the burden of the problem?

The average electronics ecommerce retailer offers 135 digital cameras online, with virtually no way for the purchaser to distinguish between the cameras. Doesn’t the design team of the site (including the information architects who lay out the choice mechanism, merchandisers who choose the products to sell, and content providers who describe the individual products) need to bear some of the responsibility for solving this problem?"    (Continued via UIE Brain Sparks)    [Usability Resources]

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