Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Maybe" is one option too many

Don't make the options more complicated with nebulus options ...

"When I’m planning an event, and I use a web service like evite® to send invitations, that web service offers three choices:

1. Yes, I’ll come
2. No, I won’t
3. Maybe—I’m not sure

“Maybe” is one option too many. As a best practice, we should dispense with it, just as we should replace five-star rating systems with four-star ones.

The problem with five-star rating systems
Let users choose from five stars, and they nearly always pick three. Three is the little bear’s porridge, neither too hot nor too cold. Three is neutral—a safe place to hide. Even in the virtual world, where nothing more consequential is being asked than an opinion, many people would rather equivocate than commit.

But present these same users with a four-star spread and you leave them no cover. Two stars out of four is not neutral. Neither is three stars out of four. Any star rating they choose will reflect an actual opinion. There is no place to hide. When there is no place to hide, courage arises out of necessity. Force people out of the brush, and they develop the backbone needed to state an opinion."    (Continued via Jeffrey Zeldman)    [Usability Resources]


Blogger Alex said...

I completely agree with your annalysis of meaningless, or even detrimental, choices. However, I feel that "maybe" is an option too few imho. Thats why we at Planypus (, have Yes, Probably, Probably Not, and No. You should check us out for your next party, we have a different planning mentality- we focus on collaboration and the group, we are really a wiki for your social life.


7:21 AM  
Blogger Usernomics said...

Hi Alex,

I like your categories. Much more manageable.

10:13 AM  

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