I’d rather decide, thanks.

How a quote horrified me.

While reading an article in Esquire, I saw this:

“You won’t approach a coffee machine in twenty years from now and say you want a ‘single’ or a ‘double’. You will want coffee and that machine will figure out not only what you mentally want but what will make you feel the best. It will optimize for you”

I actually gasped.

I’m all for technology adapting to make our lives easier, but I don’t think every decision should be made for me. Not every decision is important or life changing, but all decisions are contextual. And it’s contextual understanding that helps us build new thoughts and opinions on older ones.

Pre-set choices are limiting. They confine us by actively leaving out other options. Personally, I want to actively choose things, like coffee, because I should be controlling what I put into my body. If I walk up to a machine and it automatically starts making a coffee, I’m more apt to drink that coffee, rather than deciding just before I press start that I really should have water.

I want to think about my choices.

Often I hear clients say that they “don’t want to make users think” and often I agree. Steve Krug is right; People shouldn’t have to learn how to do something if there is already a standard way, unless it is 100% needed. For example, common UI elements can be used so that users can orient themselves to a product or site and not have to waste time and energy learning a new navigation construct.

However, sometimes a new mental model is needed. And having users think to understand that model is perfectly acceptable. Learning is not a bad thing.

I really hope that when we’re designing products, today and in the future, we don’t sacrifice personal choice and thinking over perceived ease.