Designing solutions that support users’ autonomy and competence can be difficult. One way you can enhance end users’ feelings of both is by allowing them to play out hypothetical strategies and see how they influence results.
One example comes from the Johnson & Johnson Digital Health Scorecard, which is a short health risk assessment available for iOs, Android, or Windows 8 (full disclosure: I had no role in developing this tool). Users answer seven questions about their health, and receive a score from 0-100 reflecting their level of wellness. Users can then experiment with how making different behavior changes might influence their score. In the example below, I explored how exercising more often might change my sample user’s score.
This sort of functionality gives users a sense of choice (autonomy) about how to approach a desirable outcome such as increasing a health score, while building competence by helping users to craft an actionable strategy.
A second example of how a “what if” scenario could boost user autonomy and competence comes from the financial industry.
AAA offers web-based insurance calculators that allow users to enter their financial data and receive an estimate for the best life insurance plan to cover their needs. Similar to the Digital Health Score Card, the calculators let users tweak their inputs in order to see the effect on output.
These sorts of tools offer users choice in the moment and enhance the sense of autonomy. At the same time, they make the connection between user behavior (in the case of the health risk tool) or financial characteristics (in the case of the insurance calculator) and outcomes visible so users can adjust accordingly. This helps support a sense of competence.
Giving users an opportunity to ask “what if”? and explore the answers is a strategy you can use to help support their autonomy and competence, and in turn, engage them.