What Is Predictability In UX?

“Predictability in UX can be defined as how much a user can successfully foresee the result of an interaction.”

This can involve the meeting or matching of their expectations, whether in an initial experience or a repeat one. Conversely, unpredictability occurs when customers do not know what to expect or they expect something different to what they experience.

  • As part of Door knob example, the customer predicted that the door would work as he expected, and then it didn’t.
  •  Similarly, online shoppers expect their purchases to be shipped quickly and providers who don’t meet this expectation are unlikely to get repeat business.

It’s also about successfully matching a customer’s mental model of what an experience should be.

Mental models are internalized expectations of how the world works that customers use to predict outcomes. Meeting and managing these predictions are critical to business success.

For customers, predictability provides three major benefits:

  • A sense of control
  • Trust and safety
  • Reliability

Why Is It Important?

Why is predictability such an essential component of an experience? The clear outcome of a positive, predictable experience is the effect it has on customer satisfaction. Generally, it enhances the perception customers have of the company, and affects sales growth positively. Take Starbucks, for example; when it came into the market it created a worldwide phenomenon. Customers were given the same predictable experience every time they bought—no-frills, fast and friendly service, with coffee that tasted exactly the same every time, no matter when or where. The concept worked so well that, at one point, Starbucks was opening one store a day. It is easy to see how they have mastered a component of predictability through consistency.

Having predictability creates a positive psychological impact on customers. 

Woolworths in Australia is proud of the fact that the majority of their stores have the same layout. Any supermarket retailer will tell you, the one thing that causes more customer complaints and defections is moving a product from one shelf to another, so move the tomato sauce at your peril! 🙂

If you have ever visited BigBazzar here in India, for items that you buy regularly, try and note that how many times you know the exact location in which they can be found every time. This is predictability. This can ruin or raise the business for any retailer and for that matter any business.


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