Cognitive Bias in Web Design

Someone pointed me to an interesting article in WebSite Magazine called “Does Cognitive Bias Kill Creativity?” by Paul Ralph.  ( Interesting user experience tidbit, I could not figure out a way to link directly to the article, so you’ll find the article on page 51 of this issue. )

The main thrust of the article is that creativity is a lot of work, we tend to take the path of least resistance, and we hate to second guess our decisions or rework anything that seems done.

This article reminded me of the answer to a question we get a lot lately — the question is “Why shouldn’t I just use Bootstrap ( or Foundation or some other framework ) to do my prototyping?”  The answer I give to this question is two-fold:

First, although you can get something created very quickly with Bootstrap, when you start making changes, you can get bogged down in the HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  Depending on your level of expertise, the difficulties here can be prohibitive.

The second part of the answer is due to cognitive bias.  Once you build out your prototype in Bootstrap or another framework, you can create a huge amount of lock-in, or what is called Cognitive Bias in the article above.  Responsive frameworks provide solid default answers to many different design questions.  The bias comes from a feeling of  commitment on the part of the designers, developers and others based on the previously expended effort.  It’s hard to change paths once you’ve started down a road, and you won’t even consider major changes or completely different approaches.  In short, you start with a set of constraints that negatively impacts your creativity.

We recently completed a Bootstrap based redesign of, and by keeping our prototyping in ProtoShare until we answered the design and ux questions ourselves, we were able to get through the design and UX process very quickly, and then when we started to build using Bootstrap, we had a pretty clear idea of what the final outcome would be.  ProtoShare achieved its goal of eliminating huge amounts of rework by letting us focus on quick, highly-flexible iterations during design and ux followed by longer iterations ( some in ProtoShare and some in code ) after we started development.

As always, I’d love to hear your experiences with this.

This entry was posted in Blog, Industry, Prototyping Benefits. Bookmark the permalink.

Previous post:
Next post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *