In this article at OpenGenus, we will explore the false consensus effect in UX design and discuss how it impacts the design of products.
Table of contents:
- Impact on UX Design
- Best Practices
The false consensus effect, also known as the false-consensus bias, is a cognitive bias that refers to the tendency of individuals to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, and behaviors are shared by others. The term "false consensus effect" was first introduced by social psychologists Lee Ross, David Greene, and Pamela House in 1977.
This bias can also be observed in the field of user experience (UX) design. This mainly happens when we tend to assume that our preferences are also shared by others while designing a product, which can lead to a bad user experience (UX) and sometimes lead to the failure of the product.
Impact on UX Design
Assumption of User Homogeneity
When the designers assume their own personal preferences are also commonly shared by others, it reduces the representation of the user base and tends to be more personal than the needs of the user groups. This can exclude a large number of popular and potential users.
Inadequate User Feedback
When designers are influenced by the false consensus effect, they tend to ignore the valuable feedback given by others and prioritize their feedback that aligns with their own views and ideas. This can lead to failure of legitimate user feedback.
This can also have an effect on the personalization of the product, as the user experience(UX) feels generic and fails to meet the individual needs and the preference of a large user base.
The false consensus effect can hinder innovation by discouraging designers from exploring alternative design ideas and they may assume that if a design works well for them, it will work well for everyone else.
High Development Cost
Because of the false consensus effect, failing to consider diverse user needs can result in costly redesigns, rework, and updates later in the development process. Addressing these issues early on can save both time and resources and also have a greater impact on the company's reputation.
Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms often suffer from the effect of false consensus in terms of content visibility and algorithm flows. Designers can assume that the content they personally care about or find relevant is what most users also prefer. This can lead to a poor user experience (UX) and certainly tends to reduce the number of users that use these platforms every day.
In the context of e-commerce, designers influenced by false consensus can assume that their own preferences and purchasing behaviours correspond to those of the target audience. This may lead to a lack of customization and customization options, making it difficult for users to find products that really fit their individual needs and preferences.
Mobile app developers may fall into a false consensus bias by assuming that their own habits and usage patterns reflect those of all users. This may result in the omission of essential functionality, inefficient navigation structures, or the neglect of specific user groups with different usage patterns or accessibility requirements.
Designers who build productivity tools can assume that their own workflow and preferences are the majority of users. As a result, they could neglect essential features or not provide customization options that meet the different working styles and requirements of different users.
Designers who create collaboration platforms may assume that their own methods of collaboration, communication styles, and organizing information are universally shared. This may lead to interfaces which favour certain communication channels or work processes, possibly ignoring the needs and preferences of different teams or industries.
User Research and Testing
Conduct in-depth user research and usability testing to better understand the diverse viewpoints, needs and preferences of the target audience. This enables a better understanding of the user base and avoids assumptions based on personal biases.
Collect Diverse User Feedback
Actively solicit feedback from a broad range of users in order to ensure broad representation of views. Develop opportunities for users to provide feedback through surveys, interviews, usability testing or specialized feedback channels. Pay attention to dissenting views and consider them valuable inputs for improved design.
Conduct A/B Testing
Implementation of A/B tests to compare different design variants and user experiences. This approach allows you to objectively assess the impact of design decisions on user engagement, satisfaction and performance rates. By testing more than one option, you can avoid relying solely on personal hypotheses.
Encourage collaboration between designers, researchers, developers and others involved in the design process. By integrating different viewpoints, you can challenge assumptions and biases, leading to more inclusive and efficient design solutions.
Continual Iteration and Improvement
User experience(UX) design is an iterative process; therefore, user feedback must be continually collected and design improvements made iteratively based on this information. Review and update design regularly to meet emerging needs, technology advancements and user expectations.