Background: Making relevant information visible
Not all information which is available is also noticed
- Human perception is selective. Only a fraction of the information detected by the sensory organs is consciously perceived. In particular, factual information can only be effective if it is part of the conscious perception.
- In order to increase the probability of conscious perception, basic mechanisms of perception processes should be taken into account when information is designed.
- The probability of information consciously being perceived is affected, among other things, by its placement. Even small changes can make a significant difference here. This applies in particular for the question of whether information is placed above or below a title, or whether a document is formatted as a table or as running text.
- Eye movement analysis as well as qualitative research methods such as structured individual reports (think-aloud protocols) and discussions in focus groups can help to make perception processes visible.
The time at which information is provided is relevant
- The same information can have a different effect depending on whether it is perceived at the beginning or at the end of a decision-making process. If, for example, a purchasing decision has already been made, then additional information is often no longer taken into account.
- Here too, it is recommended that empirical methods are used to ensure that important information is perceived at the beginning of a decision-making process to the greatest extent possible.
The same information can have different effects on different groups of people
- Information is evaluated against the background of existing knowledge and experience. It is therefore important to know the level of knowledge held by the person being addressed.
- The use of focus groups can contribute to understanding the level of knowledge and thus the effect of information in particular target groups. Through representative surveys, the broad impact of information can be examined. Findings from this process can help in the development of suitable information formats from the consumer’s point of view.
Greater design freedom can result in uneven competitive conditions
- A wide range of design variants for a piece of information generally results in a wide range of probabilities of perception. The equivalent design freedom can result in information with the same content having a different effect depending on the implementation.
- Especially in the case of a warning, the equivalent design freedom particularly pays off for those providers who do not strive for good visibility.
- Empirically tested requirements for the placement and design of a piece of information allow for consistently high and at the same time comparable visibility for relevant information.
These principles were applied in the project on a warning regarding small investor protection.