You can use defaults to take the burden of choice off the user. Ultimately you are removing friction from the process of completing tasks, filling out forms.
Finding good defaults should be a process rather than a task. Use the data that is already available to you, like location, language, date and time, connect with external services to build a profile to get the name, contact details and picture based on already entered information. Fill in the gaps the best you can.
Your ultimate goal is to help the users make progress in their lives, may that be in the form of booking a hotel or checking the availability of a dentist. Be responsible when choosing defaults and remember that happy users = better conversion rates.
Defaults save lives
Setting something as simple as a default state for a checkbox can have a huge impact. Because users scan through content and don’t devote the same amount of cognitive effort to each end every step, the defaults can significantly impact results.
A study has been conducted which proves that presumed consent vs. explicit consent on organ donation agreements can have a dramatic effect. It doesn’t have anything to do with demographics. Only digging deep enough will uncover the flaws in the process.
What does the user want to accomplish? Help them get through the process faster by giving them a head start with a partially filled form.
If the user is withdrawing money take the historical data into account. How much money does this person usually withdraw, is it in the $50 – $250 range or more in the $500 – $2500 range. You can figure it easily out and suggest appropriate values. Let the user be in control and make sure to provide a way for them to choose a different amount.
How to speed up the process
Only require the essentials. Think about the minimum that you need to capture from the user. You can get away with less fields than you think. Reduce form abandonment rates by decreasing the number of required fields.
You can speed up completion by pre-filling certain fields. Let the user scan through it and if something doesn’t look right, make it an easy fix. Besides it shows how the data should look like.
If the user is booking a flight, set the origin airport to be the closest to the user’s location. It is likely he’ll be starting his journey from the same city. Things like setting the departure date to one week out can also help. For frequent flyers try guessing the destination. The user might be traveling to the same locations regularly.
In case of donations it is a must to have suggested amounts. People will most likely choose the value in the middle. You might also want to give them the opportunity to donate any amount.
Good defaults are relevant in context and will improve the experience. Think about what the user would choose.
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