Feedback & Rating: UI Exploration

Applying some bits of psychology theory to feedback & rating UI.

What is the most natural user interface for expressing an opinion? To answer that, we need to first establish a definition of “an opinion”. Simply put, it is a set of feelings one has towards an object.

 

Opinions, feelings & emotions

At the most basic level, we recognize two categories of these feelings, or rather emotions: positive and negative - “I like something” or “I don’t like something”.

What is important though, is the fact that emotions are not simply dichotomous. They create a continuous spectrum. Sometimes it’s hard for us to precisely describe how we feel, even when using detailed rating scales.

Are five stars too much?

A common (and simplified) interpretation of a rating scale is star rating. Stars are tricky though. In some contexts*, this kind of scale might be useless. That’s because sometimes it doesn’t matter how much stars there are, unless it’s 5.

*some taxi companies automatically kick out drivers who fall below 4.5 stars rating. While being useful, this specific solution kind of baffles me. One must ask why they are using a 5-star rating scale in particular or what exactly is the difference between a 4-star ride and a 5-star ride.

In such cases it’s better to just go with dichotomous rating system (like / dislike, thumbs up / thumbs down, etc.). This is simpler, cleaner and easier to understand.

Valence & Arousal

Now, what previous examples of rating systems have in common (at least in context of expressing emotions), is a certain degree of imprecision. We could go the other way. The interface could display not only positivity / negativity of emotion (valence), but also intensity of the experience (arousal).

Clearly though, this is not very usable. It’s too complex and for many people, graphs are not the most intuitive way of processing information.

Solution? A slider. Wow

We came up with a simple slider that combines all of the approaches listed above. It represents a continuous scale between two extremes (good / bad, yes / no, etc.), it’s easy to use and understand.

To support usability we added color as visual aid. The scale begins in blue (cool) and goes towards red (hot). These colors refer to temperature, which in itself is a good metaphor for emotions (we're either disinterested, cool, or excited, hot).

Real world applications?

This rating system could be used for example as a simple digital comment card.

Thanks!

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