behavioural economics | February 03, 2020

Economist Shlomo Benartzi Examines How Digital Design Drives Our Behavior for the Harvard Business Review

We live so much of our lives online, it only makes sense that many of our decisions happen onscreen. But do we understand how profoundly the design of the digital world affects the quality of those decisions? In his latest for the Harvard Business Review, Shlomo Benartzi reviews the often overlooked power of digital design.

“A review of recent research provides clear evidence that many organizations are currently undervaluing the power of digital design and should invest more in behaviorally informed designs to help people make better choices,” writes Shlomo Benartzi in the Harvard Business Review. “In many cases, even minor fixes can have a major impact, offering a return on investment that’s several times larger than the conventional use of financial incentives or marketing and education campaigns.”


Benarzti and his collaborators, Lynn Connell-Price and Richard Mason, investigated the impact of online enrollment interfaces at a retirement services company, to see how effectively they influenced their employees’ 401K contribution decisions. By making small changes in the original design—focusing on colour, display, and language—the researchers were able to increase personalized enrollment by 15%. And because employees who personalize enrollment tend to contribute at a rate twice as high as those who automatically enroll, this shift had a profound impact on employee savings. This is but one example of how powerful digital design can be. “Too often, people see design as a visual garnish, a digital element that prettifies but adds little value. But this research shows that digital design is so much more than that — it is an integral part of any product or service offering.”


Read the full article here.


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