Making your settings screens more intuitive


While signing up for a frequent flyer program, I ran into a confusing question. I wanted to opt-out of all the marketing communications, like emails and telemarketing calls. For email, it was easy: just change each email option to No. But when I got to the telemarketing section, I was baffled.

Here’s the text that appeared in the telemarketing area, after a long paragraph explaining what sort of telemarketing they conduct: “I do not want to receive special offers via telephone”. Ok, so I choose Yes, and that means that yes, I don’t want the offers. But right below that, I see the options for email, which I already marked No. Shouldn’t my choices look the same all the way down, either Yes or No for each section? Even after reading the telemarketing options a half dozen times, something didn’t feel right, so I ended up calling the company so they could make the changes on their end.

There are two takeaways here. First, when designing any sort of settings screen, you should phrase all the questions and settings the same way. Customers should be able to glance at the list and feel confident that they’ve turned any given option — or a whole group of options — on or off like they wanted to.

Second, avoid phrasing your text with negatives and especially double negatives. It’s a lot better to say “Do you want to receive email offers?” with a simple Yes/No choice, instead of something like “I do not wish to receive email communications” or “I wish to opt-out of email offers”. Sentence constructions involving “not” and “opt-out” take more time for people to process. By getting rid of these confusing phrasings, people will have an easier time choosing the settings they want, which means fewer complaints and lower customer service costs for you.