Why we hit snooze and other examples of how choice architecture gets it wrong

Our Alarm clock: Why is SNOOZE button the biggest button?

Millions of people probably lose 9 minutes of their day (likely more…) because of this UX decision that makes it much much much easier to hit snooze than stop. The button is huge!

Imagine that Snooze was smaller and harder to hit. If this were the case, fewer people would likely lose the morning argument with themselves that keeps them horizontal for 9 more minutes and possibly makes them late to work.

Google’s mortgage calculator: The default leaves us thinking we can afford more than we can.

It’s been 6 months since mortgage rates were below 4%. Yet Google’s defaults (search “mortgage calculator”) suggest they are 3.92%. With actual current rates around 4.62%, Google is misrepresenting mortgage costs to the tune of thousand of dollars. In the example below, the interest rate default of 3.92% on a $100,000 loan misrepresents the total payment a borrower will make to the tune of $14,877.

Buyer beware, this is not the rate you will get. The real question: how many people know it’s wrong and then actually change it before using the calculator?

Our default desktop file system: It’s like a closet without hangers.

When we go to save a document (on a Mac) the path of least resistance is to save the new file in the “Documents” folder. However, if you want to keep an organized (file) closet and put the file into a folder, you need to click into “Documents” and then choose your folder of choice.

Imagine if someone follows this default all the time. Their files will be a mess of random, hard to find documents with no clear organization! Just like a pile of clothes on the floor.

To understand how the choice architecture could improve, let’s reflect on Slack’s approach. Slack exposes folders vs hides them. This simple choice architecture tweak eliminates one click from the equation while also implicitly suggesting to the user that folders are a good thing to use.

Written by

Thinking about Irrationality. Behavioral Scientist. Co-founder of Irrational Labs and Common Cents Lab.

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