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Cognitive Accessibility Design Pattern: Clearly State the Results and Disadvantages of Actions, Options, and Selections

User Need

I need support and explanations for any choices. The advantages or disadvantages are clear to me and I understand the effects of the choice I might make.

What to Do

When presenting users with actions and selections, clearly explain the benefits, risks and consequences of each option. This includes any:

  • changes from what the user asked for,
  • disadvantages from the standard product or offering,
  • features that may be a risk to users wellbeing or finances.

How it Helps

Clearly stating benefits and consequences of each action and selection option helps individuals avoid mistakes. This is particularly important when the results cannot be easily corrected, lead to safety risks, or may never be known.

For example, a user of a travel site is booking a trip to Geneva. They see an option at a good time, but this ticket is to a different city. They assume the options given are to the location they asked for. They check the dates and times, but, because they can only read by spelling out words, they do not notice the changed destination. They are taken to a different location than their hotel, and the vulnerable user arrives at night in an unfamiliar city without accommodation.

In another example, a user sees a laptop for sale at a good price. They do not see the refurbished word in the long description. The laptop is not actually a good price.

Getting Started

Whenever you ask the user to make a selection or take an action, consider whether there are any implied or hidden results that the user should be aware of. Clearly indicate those results within the user interface and confirm the user is aware of them.



  1. Clear lists of what is included and what is not included. For example:
    • When choosing an airline ticket. Next to each option, there is a clear list of what is included.
  2. Warnings about any changes or risks. For example:
    • When choosing an airline ticket, if a ticket option is to a different destination or there is another unusual action or change that could be unwanted or have risks, the user is asked to confirm the change.


  1. Details that are not clear when the user selects an option.
    • For example: Meal options from an online menu have fun names. The meal contents, side items, allergy information and ability to customize each option is not visible until two steps later in the process. A customer must go several screens down on each item in order to make a decision.
  2. Changing items from the original request without warning the user.
  3. Risks to the user without warnings.

User Stories and Personas

User Story



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