Ready, Start, … Complete?

Redundant cues is a design principle that recommends using multiple visual cues to communicate the same information in order to account for user inability to understand some visual cues, such as color coding for a color blind user. Below, I’ve used the survey platform Qualtrics as both an example of good design and bad design for redundant cues.

Good Design

Qualtrics does a good job of including redundant cues in its design when indicating survey activation status. In order to distribute a Qualtrics survey, you first need to activate it. On your survey overview page (shown below), there appears to the left of your survey name an “active” column. Surveys that are currently inactive have no color and no internal icon, while surveys that are currently active are coded green and have an internal check mark. As a result, users are told both by color and internal icon (or there lack of) whether or not their survey is ready to be distributed or not.

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Bad Design: Qualtrics

Qualtrics does a less satisfactory job of including redundant cues in its design when providing “health reports” of your surveys. In particular, it only uses one visual cue, e.g. color coding, to differentiate between responses that are started and responses that are completed. Started responses are represented by a blue bar, while completed responses are represented by a green bar. However, if a user happens to be blue-green colorblind, he/she will be unable to tell the difference between the two types of responses. So in the instance, Qualtrics has failed to employ redundant cues to convey survey response status.

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Improved Redesign

Below, I’ve re-designed the survey response status to be consistent with the redundant cues principle. It’s a little difficult to see, but I added internal icon to both the started and completed statuses. The started responses are still blue but now have an internal play button icon, and the completed responses are still green but now have an internal check mark icon. That way, users have two cues, both color and internal icon, to understand survey responses status. Moreover, it aligns the overall design of the survey platform to be consistent with itself.

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About the author: Stella Tu

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