Nudging in Product Design

I agree with Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, the authors of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, who argue that products and systems, especially those with which people interact to make decision, ought to be designed to nudge them in the direction of what best serves their true interests.

Few, S. (2009). Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis (1st ed.). Analytics Press.

I loved the book Nudge. It made me think about things in very different ways, and how the responsibility on decision-making lay not just in the person making the decision but also the people designing the products and systems.

And in the case of technical decisions like the one Stephen Few goes on to elaborate about after the quote above, I think it makes absolute sense, e.g. where there are proven physiological benefits, like not using green and red hues but rather blue and red for heatmaps, due to the prevalence of colourblindness in the population.


One example I can cite of my own was when I designed an Excel form used in the Sales teams’ forecasting process that had four options. Every forecasting round I would have at least one person dropping me a mail asking which button they should press.

After realising that in 90% of the use cases the right button to press was the second one from the top, I added the word “Default” to the option, bolded the text, and made it a slightly darker hue compared to all the others.

18 months on, having not a single mail coming in asking about which button to press, I can safely say that nudge worked.

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