Cover by Toby Segaran, Jeff Hammerbacher

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Designing Our Solution

We've talked about some of the pitfalls inherent in a data-collecting project; in the next few sections, we discuss the nuts and bolts of our design, including typography, web browser compatibility, and dynamic form elements.

Design Philosophy

When we design to elicit a response, framing the problem from a user's perspective is critical. It's easy to get caught up in the technical constraints of a project and design for the computer, rather than the person using it. But form data is actively generated by a person (as opposed to being passively generated by a sensor or other input), and requires the participant to make decisions about how and whether to answer your questions. So, the way in which we collect a participant's data matters a great deal.

As we designed the web form for this project, we focused on balancing the motivations of survey participants with the business objectives of the client. The client's primary business goal—to gather data determining whether the target audience would be interested in purchasing a new luxury product—was in line with a user-centered design perspective. By placing the person in the central role of being both advisor and potential future customer, the business objectives provided strong justification for our user-centered design decisions.

Here are a couple of guidelines we used to frame our design decisions:

Respect the user

Making our design people-centered throughout the process required thinking about our users' emotional ...

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