Copywriters–Choice Architects?

28 December, 2014


"words have power"Until I picked up the book Nudge (Thaler and Sunstein) a few years ago I’d never heard the term “choice architecture.” Choice architecture as described by Richard Thaler is, in a nutshell:

“the careful design of the environments in which people make choices.”

And, Thaler continued, “If anything you do influences the way people choose, then you are a choice architect.” Copywriters influence the way people choose every time they craft a call to action or work with a UX designer on the flow and intent of transactional copy and design.

Thaler’s key ideas on choice architecture:

Three key features of choice architecture are the default, giving feedback, and expecting error, he said. ‘Default is what happens if you do nothing, such as leaving your computer unused until the screen saver appears,’ Thaler said. ‘The main lesson from psychology on this is that default options are sticky. Whatever you choose as the default has a very good chance of being selected. If you are the choice architect, you need to spend a lot of time thinking about what those default options should be.’

Copy/content applications for choice architecture:

  • transactional copy
  • calls to action
  • toggles, radio buttons, check boxes
  • searching and finding instruction, labels, help
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