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I have an app that allows users to self-evaluate decisions. At the most basic level, events will be marked positively and/or negatively indicating whether the decisions were good or bad.

For example, in the realm of diet, each meal will show up as a single event. If I splurged at dinner and ate two desserts, I would mark that as bad. However, at the same dinner event, I may have made a good choice on the main entree.

In some ways this shares similarities with other rating systems. The thumbs up/ thumbs down or like/dislike approach is very easy to understand. However, I'd really like to be able to capture mixed sentiment. Using the example of a dinner meal, I may have made both good and bad decisions.

I want to support the simple scenario where a user marks a meal as good, bad, neutral or mixed.

Ignore the design. The idea is to visually illustrate the model conceptually. It shows all 4 states: both, good, bad, neutral.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

I'm looking for feedback on this concept and ideas for improvement. I have a hunch that people will naturally think that something is exclusively either good or bad. How can I make it clear with labeling or design that events can be marked both good and bad?

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2 Answers

Since you are designing something which falls in the behavior design domain, I would like you to point out the few key thing I learnt in that;

  • Do not design for guilt. Your design should not be making the user feel guilty about their choices.
  • Celebrate each and every tiny success. This helps in reinforcing the belief that you are doing good and helps you stay motivated.
  • Identify the problem areas and take tiny steps to improve them.

With that said, I like your idea of rating the different aspects of your diet individually. Something I would suggest you can look into is, rather than going abstract(ish) and saying what was good and bad, you can set a goal and then say what you achieved (yay!) and what you overshot (oh noes!). The result being, the user is seeing he can stay within his limits while at the same time being able to identify the problem areas.

If that is way out of line for you, then I would suggest the least you can do is re-label the 'good' and 'bad' terms. Something like 'bulls eye' and 'misses' which is not polar and leaning towards positive.

Also, you can look into giving basic breakdown of the dinner to facilitate quick entries. You have a selection of area which you want to enter (appetizer, main course, dessert, drinks, etc.) So the user just needs to select the part and say achieved or missed. Also, store previous entries so with time the user just needs to select the entry rather than typing it each and every time ;)

Make it as easy as possible for a user to enter data, since there will be times when they eat too much/are not too motivated to enter the information and the one or two extra steps will completely demotivate them to enter the data.

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I definitely like the idea of relabeling with a more positive slant. For purposes of this discussion, I'll keep the good/bad labeling. Would it feel cumbersome to prompt them for the good and bad individually? Alternatively, each meal could have an "add a comment" and each comment could be marked either good or bad but not both. –  Larsenal Apr 3 '13 at 23:26
    
So at the most basic level if you've divided dinner into the sub-categories, then you can have something like: {category,hit,miss,comment}. So, you've dessert, pair of radio buttons/toggle switches (hit,miss), and an add comment button. So, if you just want to records hit or miss its one click per item and you're done, if you want to comment, you can have something like the search bar in stackexchange (when you click it expands to accomodate more text). –  rk. Apr 3 '13 at 23:46
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My assessment is that it will be too cumbersome to mark individual entries for every dinner every day you eat. May be after use of few weeks we as a user would only want to log an over-all assessment if we ate "good", "bad" or neutral. So I am suggesting to use one symbol (a smiley) instead of two separate ones, for good and bad.

You slide up to make it Smiling and downwards to indicate bad or unhappy. Addition of Green, Red and Variations between them would also help you spot your progress over the weeks.

You can use the same circular shape to show a circular graph or progress bar indicating if the user has reached closer or away from his/her set goals. Just an iDea!

enter image description here

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