In The Wizard of Oz, the Great and Powerful Oz ended up being an illusion controlled by Professor Marvel, a skilled performer hidden behind a curtain. Similarly, many exceptional digital experiences come from the expertise and coordination of offline functions. This is especially true any time digital experiences provide an entryway to something non-digital, whether it’s retail (all things shopping), health care delivery (online pharmacies, remote medical consultation, and the like), or real-world magic (the Disney park experience). What does it take behind the curtain to make a great digital experience happen? Continue reading Behind the Screens: Aligning Operations And Digital Tools
Subcategorization is a social identity dynamic that can have either negative or positive ramifications for behavior. This psychological process happens when a person or group is deliberately excluded from comparison. It’s what US Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez just did to her teammate Simone Biles when she told Aly Raisman before the floor exercise competition, “If you get silver again, you’re the best, because Simone doesn’t count.”
A while back I wrote about a program that uses choice to help picky eaters broaden their palates. I just finished reading First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson, where she describes a more intensive version of the choice paradigm to help what is know as “restricted eaters” gain comfort with more foods. The basic premise of Wilson’s work is that taste is learned; anyone can expand their food repertoire with practice. Continue reading The Psychology of Adventurous Eating
Supporting people’s sense of autonomy is a key principle for designing engaging experiences. Designers can sometimes nudge users into taking specific actions by painting those actions as being consistent with the user’s values or goals. For example, insurance advertisements often focus on how the product can protect loved ones if the buyer dies unexpectedly; this plays on a common deeply-held value of looking out for the family’s best interests. A lighter hearted but poorly executed version of this has lately been endemic on my travels through the web: Email sign-up light boxes that accuse the user of some undesirable quality if they don’t enter an email address.
Former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop famously said that “drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” (C. Everett Koop also bears the distinction of being someone I confused with Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken regularly throughout the 1980s.) Likewise, it doesn’t really matter how great an experience is if you can’t get someone to engage with it in the first place. Continue reading Engagement Is Everything. (That’s My Excuse.)
Imagine it’s your first visit to a dentist, doctor, or health coach. They will usually start with a basic exam to establish your level of health. That begins the discussion of any changes or improvements you might want to make. Normally in the formal care system, that first visit is accompanied by the transfer of your historical records from previous providers so the new one can tell not just your current state, but your trajectory. That’s not necessarily so with coaches, and definitely not so with digital coaches. But that history is so important.
My favorite fitness is solo fitness, but I’m increasingly in the minority on that one (or so it seems). There have always been group fitness opportunities but they seem to be increasing in number. Here in Boston, we have new boutique gyms and studios opening every month, and programs like ClassPass are making them more easily accessible to anyone (although their recent price hike might change that). One of the biggest free fitness movements in the country, the November Project, started here, and I can think of at least three or four free running clubs in my neighborhood alone.
Usually we associate playing video games with being sedentary, but that’s not the case here. Since Pokémon Go was released last week (and became an instant hit), a number of people have observed that players seem to be getting more exercise than usual while playing the game. The game uses geolocation to plant characters in real world locations, where players can detect and capture them with the phone. Being successful at the game requires physically navigating the world. Continue reading The Unintended Positive Consequences of Pokémon Go
Here’s a total click-bait headline: The UX Secret That Will Ruin Apps For You. Even though I rather like apps and don’t want them ruined for me, of course I clicked, only to find a UX “secret” that is a familiar friend.
Here it is: Chances are, your app isn’t really loading when it tells you it is. Those delays when your app is searching for flights, logging into your accounts, or creating your feedback are deliberately added by designers to fool users into thinking the process takes longer than it does. Continue reading Why Your App Isn’t Really Loading (It’s Psychology)
I was browsing through some of my old documents, and came across a piece I wrote in grad school about competition and collaboration in academia, and how academics practice their craft via writing. The course was on creating an academic career for yourself, in the loftiest and most philosophical of ways. The professor was someone I admired deeply; he was generous with his feedback and so smart you couldn’t help but learn from him. This particular paper caught my eye because even though I opted out of academia entirely (no fault of this course!), it presages some of the themes I still think about: Balancing individual and group success. Being authentic. Expressing yourself through writing. Continue reading From the Archives: Competition, Collaboration, and Writing