Category Archives: Case Study

Radical Innovation in the Bathroom

Radical Innovation in the BathroomIncremental innovation improves on existing technology or systems. Historically, the most famous and impactful inventions tend to fall under the category of radical innovation. Not to say incremental innovation is bad–it’s important–but it doesn’t usually change the game. The game changers are the ones that break out of existing paradigms and don’t accept the usual parameters as a given. It’s radical innovation we need when looking at critical issues such as how to hang toilet paper on the roll. Continue reading Radical Innovation in the Bathroom

Building Community Through Shared Identity

Building CommunityThroughShared IdentityDedicated co-working spaces are proliferating, and it’s probably a huge relief to small startups and remote workers who can finally enjoy community and collaboration without the price tag associated with an ongoing office lease. Here in Boston, there are at least two major co-working chains (WeWork and Workbar), in addition to several one-off options, for people who would otherwise be working solo or in very small groups.  Continue reading Building Community Through Shared Identity

BART Tells It Like It Is: When Corporate Social Media Gets Real

BART Tells It Like It IsLast week, San Francisco’s public transit system, the BART, experienced electrical problems that negatively impacted service. As people are wont to do, riders flocked to Twitter to complain to the agency about their poor service. What was unusual is that on the evening in question, instead of offering a bland apology or canned corporate statement, the people behind the BART Twitter account replied candidly and openly. In getting real, BART demonstrated how a faceless civic entity can leverage psychology to form relationships. Three things BART did right are: Continue reading BART Tells It Like It Is: When Corporate Social Media Gets Real

Relatedness for Social Good: Microlending

Relatedness for Social Good- MicrolendingIf you wanted people to donate money to help a stranger, how would you do it?

A good first step to take would be to make the recipient seem like less of a stranger. Research on altruism generally shows that we’re more likely to behave generously toward people we know and like. Interventions to increase altruistic behavior often focus on making the recipient more real to the giver–by using photos and stories, by urging the giver to take the perspective of the recipient, and so forth. Continue reading Relatedness for Social Good: Microlending

Eversource’s Energy Management Program: Strengths and Opportunities

Eversource's Energy Management Program- Strengths and OpportunitiesOpower started the trend: Tell people how their energy consumption compares to their neighbors’, and watch them start to conserve electricity in order to move closer to the norm. After Opower showed initial results suggesting that social data can influence utility usage, other approaches to the issue gained momentum. In addition to direct competitors in the energy management space, devices like the Nest thermostat leverage technology to help people save money and power. While I’ve read a lot about these sorts of solutions (and lusted after a smart thermostat of my own), only recently have I been able to experience one firsthand. Continue reading Eversource’s Energy Management Program: Strengths and Opportunities

How Polly Combats Low Health Literacy With Humor and Technology

HowA challenge for public health educators and behavior change experts is helping people who have low levels of health literacy. These people may have difficulty with written communication, understanding medication instructions, or how to care for a chronic condition. Low health literacy is incredibly common, with some groups estimating that as many as 88% of American adults struggle with some aspect of health literacy. Continue reading How Polly Combats Low Health Literacy With Humor and Technology

A Brand I Can Relate To: Companies Creating Relationships on Social Media

A Brand I Can Relate ToSocial media is increasingly becoming an expected channel for companies to communicate with customers, users, and other stakeholders. I’d venture to say that it’s now more common for companies to be on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook than off. The goal, logically, is to engage with consumers, whether it’s by providing customer service, creating a brand image, or responding real-time to relevant events. Of course, a lot of companies do it badly, with far fewer doing it well. Continue reading A Brand I Can Relate To: Companies Creating Relationships on Social Media

How UX and Design Can Improve Flying

How UX and DesignCan ImproveI have chalked up a lot of travel miles in my time, and consider myself an expert at navigating an airport. Experience has taught me how to decipher almost any boarding pass, no matter how opaquely designed. That said, I still sometimes struggle with figuring out exactly where to go for a flight, and I know less experienced travelers do. I can’t say how many times have I seen people (usually very elderly or clearly foreign travelers) try to get through security with an itinerary instead of a boarding pass. On the plane, people struggle to accurately identify which seat is theirs (this has even happened to me, recently, to my great shame). Continue reading How UX and Design Can Improve Flying

Case Study: Coffee & Competence

Case StudyMany apps that reward users by badging or leveling up miss the mark. Maybe they reward the wrong behavior (like assigning badges for check-ins when the goal is really to get someone to work out). Or maybe they assign rewards for behaviors that a person would do anyway (and thereby run the risk of the undermining effect). And this isn’t even taking into account whether rewards even work in the first place. Starbucks, however, seems to have developed a mobile app that effectively rewards the right behavior (that’s buying coffee) in a way that generates revenue. Continue reading Case Study: Coffee & Competence

Opting Into a Green Choice vs. Opting Out

Opting (3)Perhaps you’ve stayed in a major chain hotel in the past few years. If you have, you may have noticed many chains are beginning to focus on more sustainable environmental practices within their hotels. Many of the hotel rooms I stay in now have recycle bins alongside the trash cans, toiletries are packaged using more environmentally-friendly materials, and some hotel chains offer small incentives to forgo daily laundry service. I am, in general, a fan of these efforts, since I am horrified by the thought of how much waste a hotel must generate (all those half-used bars of soap!). Continue reading Opting Into a Green Choice vs. Opting Out