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Prevent Biases
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Prevent Biases

Prevent Biases

The human brain is an incredible processing machine that can store an amazing amount of information.

One way the brain can store so much information is by creating mental shortcuts based on repeated patterns. These shortcuts allow people to link and group information to process it faster. However, these repeated thought patterns can lead to inaccurate or unreasonable conclusions that are biased, i.e. favoring or being prejudiced against someone or something. Bias can seriously affect your user research and negatively impact the design of your final product. So let's explore how bias can affect your work as a UX designer and how you can combat it during your research.

  • #HumanBrain
  • #RepeatedPatterns

Prevent Biases in data collection

It's important to know that everyone has biases. It's just a natural part of being human. The most important thing is that you're able to recognize your own biases and prevent them from affecting your work. As a designer of UX you need to know how to anticipate, recognize, and overcome bias, especially in research.

Choose your words carefully

When conducting research, it's important to use words that won't steer the user one way or the other. As a designer, you naturally have a preference for the designs you create, and you probably assume that users like them too. After all, that's why you designed them! But when you ask users questions about their experience with your product, you don't want them to answer a certain way just to please you. Choosing leading words can create the framing effect, where users make a decision or choice based on how the information was presented to them.

Encourage Independant Thinking

Group interviews can be marred by the follower effect, where you go along with the group opinion instead of thinking creatively, which can discourage people who've a different opinion than the majority of the group from having an open discussion.

For example, imagine you're conducting an investigation with a group of five participants. You ask each person in the group, in turn, to share their thoughts on a particular product design decision, such as the placement of a button on the home page. When the last person shares their thoughts, their feedback is influenced by all the responses given before them. To counteract the deadweight effect, ask participants to write down or record their thoughts before discussing them in the group.

Avoid specific language

It's important to be careful about the types of questions you ask users and how those questions are phrased. You must be careful not to be too biased, i.e., trying to find evidence for a hypothesis that already exists. Confirmation bias is particularly common in online surveys

For example, imagine you're conducting an online survey with a large group of participants. One of your survey questions is, "How do you use our product?" As a designer, you've some ideas about how people use your product, so you provide four options with specific wording for the participant to choose from. If none of the options you provide apply to the user, they can't select "other" or skip the question, forcing them to choose one of the multiple choice answers that doesn't match their actual experience. This means you end up with false information that skews your research data and potentially provides false evidence for a pre-existing hypothesis.

Limit the guidance you give to users

Everyone learns and thinks in different ways. When conducting any type of UX research, you must be careful to avoid false consensus, i.e., assuming that others think the same way you do. If you're conducting a usability study, some of the participants won't follow the user flow of the product in the way you might expect

For example, a user may click through the menu, select a folder, and then select a subfolder to complete a task you assigned them, when in fact there's a simple hyperlink on the home page that could've saved them time. Also, some participants may use tools to navigate the product and follow a completely different flow.

It's important that attendees can follow their own path through your product without interrupting them. If you interrupt a participant while they're experiencing your product, you'll miss out on useful data that can help you improve your designs. Instead, ask participants to describe or break down their path through your product as they move through the process. This way, you can better understand their thought process as they move through your designs.

Tone of voice and body language

Over the course of your UX career, you'll work with many different users and participants, and part of your job will be to interpret their nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice and body language. To avoid implicit biases based on a collection of attitudes and stereotypes that you associate with people without your conscious knowledge, it's important to clarify when you think you're receiving mixed signals from a participant.

For example, imagine you're having a face-to-face conversation and the participant has their arms crossed in front of their chest. This can be interpreted as a sign of defensiveness or insecurity, which is at odds with the positive feedback he's verbally giving about your product. This is a good time to ask the participant questions, such as "Is any of this making you uncomfortable?" which can encourage him to explain that it's cold in your office and he just wants to warm up.

Always ask questions if you're unsure of the intent of a participant's tone or body language!

Pay attention to your own body language and reactions

You must also be mindful of your own tone and body language when interacting with participants. Social desirability can occur when a participant answers a question the way they think you want to hear it. If you ask a participant a question and they notice that you're giving a visual or auditory cue that indicates your own opinion on the question, they may answer the way they think you'll like them.

For example, imagine you're describing a feature of the app you've developed that really excites you, and your tone changes. In this case, it's likely that the participant won't be honest about their negative opinion of the feature, since you're so positive about it. If you want the data you collect to be useful, the user needs to feel comfortable sharing their true, unfiltered feelings about the product. It's your job to guide them through the process without inadvertently influencing their responses. One way to do this is to reassure participants that their answers won't hurt anyone and that you really want to hear their honest opinions to improve your work.

Plan your research effectively

Tight deadlines are inevitable. But as a UX designer, it's important that you've enough time to recruit the right users for your study. Availability bias occurs when you rush the user recruitment process or skip screener questions to attract a larger number of users, even if they don't match the qualifications or characteristics you've already established for your ideal user.

The research you conduct is critical to your product development process. So if you survey users who don't fall under your personas, you won't get the data you need to improve your design. If you're having trouble recruiting the right users before the deadline, offer a better incentive for participating in your study, adjust your recruitment strategy, or ask your project manager for more time. Don't just take any user who's available.

Remain open minded

When conducting research, you must strive to treat all information equally to avoid both primacy bias, i.e., remembering the first user, and recency bias, i.e., remembering the last thing you heard. To combat this bias in your own research, it's helpful to stretch out the interviews in time, ask your colleagues to shadow you during the interviews to get additional opinions, and take careful notes.

  • #ChooseYourWords
  • #EncourageThinking
  • #AvoidSpecificLanguage
  • #LimitUsersGuidance
  • #BodyLanguage
  • #PayAttentionToYourOwnBodyLanguage
  • #PlanResearch
  • #OpenMinded

Table of contents
ESCHit Escape to close
Prevent Biases •

7/13 topics available

Competitive Audits

  • Introduction to competitive audits


  • Limits to competitive audits


  • Steps to conduct competitive audits


  • Present a competitive audit


Design Ideation

  • Understand design ideation


  • Business needs during ideation


  • Use insights from competitive audits to ideate


  • Use "How might we" to ideate


  • Use Crazy Eights to ideate


  • Use journey map to ideate


Goal statements

  • Build a Goal statement


User flows

  • Introduction to user flows


  • Storyboarding user flows


  • Types of storyboards



  • Introduction to wireframes


  • Paper wireframes


  • Transition from paper to digital wireframes


  • Information architecture


Ethical and Inclusive Design

  • Identify Deceptive Patterns


  • Role as a UX designer


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