What happy meals can teach us about good user experience?

Have you ever wondered why McDonald’s menus focus on combo meals?  Combo meals were born out of operational necessity, as customers were taking too long to decide what they wanted to order off the menu board. The focus on combo meals allow customers to only say “I’ll take the #2” instead of listing out the 3 different items that they think may go well together. McDonalds has effectively harnessed several psychological forces to create an ease of access to fast food that has contributed to the growing obesity crisis. What if we could use some of these same forces for good? Let’s explore the behavioral science principles behind these forces and how you can apply them to your social enterprise or program.

·  Reduce choice

The growing trend of customization and personalization will have us believe that the more choices we give customers, the more satisfied they will be. However, that’s not always the case. According to Dan Ariely, we should be wary of creating choice overload. Faced with too many decisions, customers shut down and decide not to complete their purchase, procrastinate, or choose a less desirable option. One of the most famous social science experiments to demonstrate this phenomenon known as “jam study” conducted by Dr. Sheena Iyengar at a grocery store in California showed that customers presented with fewer choices were 10 times more likely to purchase compared with those who were shown more choices. As a social entrepreneur, think about how you could take inspiration from McDonald’s combo meals and start to bundle your products or services so that customers can automatically put the right combination together.

·  Create smarter defaults

Treat every decision and every choice your customer has to make as if it is nearly insurmountable. Assume that people—especially people living in poverty—might be so overwhelmed by other priorities that even the smallest thing might dissuade them from purchasing or using your product or service. One solution is to introduce smarter default options to help people do the right thing.

  • Streamline your customer journey

To avoid creating choice overload for your customers, look for sources of friction in their journey. Where do they face complex decisions and how can you make them simpler? Print out every page of the sign-up process on your website or storyboard all of the steps your customers must take to successfully use your product. Where are the critical decisions points? Where can you eliminate steps so that they are more likely to get to the desired outcome in a painless way?


What happy meals can teach us about good user experience?