com.abtinbidgoli ~ UX/UI Developer
com.abtinbidgoli ~ UX/UI Developer

The Principle of Commitment, Consistency & Variability in UX

  • Abtin Bidgoli
  • 2 July 2021
  • 4 minute read

Getting users to make a small commitment & follow up on it can increase engagement with content. Consistency enhances learnability & is usually best for usability.

But if the problem you're solving is sufficiently different, then inconsistency may be better.

Low-Stakes ~ Easy to Make

To take advantage of behavioral consistency, get your users to make an initial commitment to an activity you want them to engage in. The initial commitment you propose to the user has to be low-stakes & easy to make. Behavioral consistency refers to people’s tendency to behave in a manner that matches their past decisions or behaviors. Behavioral consistency acts at both the individual & the social level.

com.abtinbidgoli ~ UX/UI Developer


Even when this commitment is easy to make (thanks to social media & Google integrations), it is not a low-stakes interaction ~ personal information & accidental commitment to long-term relationships are at stake. It takes time to build a relationship of experiential trust before a user feels comfortable sharing personal information.

Effectively facilitating & taking advantage of behavioral consistency is not just a matter of witty microcopy (though that can help) ~ it is a matter of interaction design. Usable sites minimize the interaction cost required to attain a variety of user goals. The interaction cost is the sum of efforts ~ mental & physical ~ that the users must deploy in interacting with a site in order to reach their goals.

Marketing & branding usually have the job of increasing the user motivation & expected benefits for engaging with a particular site or brand; usability deals with lowering the interaction cost.

com.abtinbidgoli ~ UX/UI Developer

Expected Utility

It requires UX practitioners to have a good understanding of commitment levels, prospect theory & loss aversion. It begs the analysis of the decision architecture of each workflow. UX practitioners must understand how much cognitive load, cost, & trust is required for each decision point in the interaction, from start to finish.

Users try to maximize the expected utility of an action: In other words, they weigh the benefits & the costs of each action, & they choose the one that has the best balance of benefits versus costs.

When there are several ways to reach the same goal with similar benefits, users typically tend to pick actions that minimize the estimated interaction cost.

com.abtinbidgoli ~ UX/UI Developer


Commitment & consistency are powerful motivators to increase engagement & persuade users to fulfill their goals. Designs which allow users to make a small, low-cost commitment will be more likely to convert customers than ones that make commitment a costly process.

Interaction cost is a direct measure of usability. In fact, the concept was introduced back in the early days of human-computer interaction to evaluate the usability of a software system. All usability heuristics minimize the interaction cost for the user.

An all-or-nothing design will deliver nothing from most users. There are many questions that need to be answered to ensure we meet user needs at every step of the decision-making process, but it all boils down to facilitating the trust of our users, & increasing the usability & the perceived value of our products & services.

Mental health, contemporary psychiatrists tell us, consists of the ability to adapt to the inevitable stresses & misfortunes of life. It does not mean freedom from anxiety & depression, but only the ability to cope with these afflictions in a healthy way.” ~ Curated Excerpt From: Goodwin, Doris Kearns. “Team of Rivals.” Apple Books.

Curated via Nielsen Norman Group. Thanks for reading, cheers! (with a glass of wine & book of course)

com.abtinbidgoli ~ UX/UI Developer

2016 Tayson Pierce Chardonnay Hudson Vineyards

Producer: Tayson Pierce Estate Wines, Carneros District, Napa Valley, Napa County, North Coast, California, USA

"The 2016 Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard opens with notes of struck match & wet slate over a core of baked apples, honeydew melon & spiced pears with a touch of praline. Full-bodied, rich & seductively fruited in the mouth, it has an opulent oily texture & long savory finish." ~ 93 Points ~ Lisa Perrotti-Brown ~ Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
com.abtinbidgoli ~ UX/UI Developer

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

By: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president. On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago.
When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals.
He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.
We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through. This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.
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