Bias Design Mistakes Designers Make All Of The Time

As designers, our biases seep into our work and cause us to create concepts that seem like a great idea at the time… until we expose them to the light.

Simply recognizing our own biases is an important first step in addressing the effects they might have on our design work. We may never be able to rid ourselves of bias, but by keeping an eye out for it, we can become better designers and better business people.

Action-Oriented Bias

Also known as the “status-quo bias,” self-interest bias is when we have a tendency to like and expect things to stay the same. Deep down, we prefer the world to match our perception of how we think things work.

Because of our self-interest bias:

  • We create incentives that reward the wrong behavior, or we create conflicting incentives.
  • We have silo thinking. We don’t consider the big picture or other people’s perspectives.
  • We’re motivated to obtain a favorable outcome for ourselves or our unit at the expense of others.

What this means for  UX designers:

  • We create designs that please our clients but don’t actually work for the customers who they serve.
  • We move forward on designs that match current trends regardless of the actual quality created.
  • Or we might create designs that rely on stereotypes because they are easy rather than moving the conversation forward and representing people as they really are.

Pattern-Recognition Bias

As humans, we love patterns. Patterns are comfortable. They make us feel like there is sense and order in the world. As a result, we have a tendency to imagine patterns where none actually exist.

Because of our pattern-recognition bias:

  • We give more weight to recent events.
  • We pay more attention to highly memorable events.
  • Once we have formulated a theory, we pay more attention to items that support it, and ignore evidence that disproves it.

What this means for designers:

  • We will add design elements based on recent trends or recent feedback instead of taking the time to notice the bigger problem.
  • We will design based on our own worldview, which can be extremely limiting. For example, rich kids in Silicon Valley will think up a pizza delivery app, but an entrepreneur who grew up poor in India will design a better toilet to conserve water and keep his village clean.