Category Archives: Technology

Behind the Screens: Aligning Operations And Digital Tools

Behind the ScreensIn 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

Avoid Confusing UX: Today’s Unsubscriber, Tomorrow’s Buyer

Confusing UXNot every product is right for every person. Or, sometimes, a product is right for someone but it isn’t the right time. In those cases, good design helps keep the door open for people to rediscover the product when the timing improves. That usually means making any goodbyes as painless as possible. Recently I got a vacation rental email from HomeAway (for reasons unknown, as I don’t believe I’ve ever rented through them). In general I try not to subscribe to many marketing lists unless it’s a product I buy very frequently, so I clicked to take my name off this one. I was brought to the screen below:  Continue reading Avoid Confusing UX: Today’s Unsubscriber, Tomorrow’s Buyer

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! The Legend of Zelda and Fundamental Needs

It's Dangerous to Go Alone!I was never a big gamer, but I did become obsessed with the original NES The Legend of Zelda as a kid. On top of the hours I spent playing, I also avidly consumed any article in my brother’s Nintendo Power magazine related to the game.  I remember talking with people about rumors about hidden levels in the game (true), and how to find the Blue Ring. The Internet wasn’t a thing yet or I’m sure I would have been on Zelda message boards. Zelda was the first game I remember that really created an imaginary universe with engrossing challenges and a sense of infinite possibility. As an adult, I look back on the game as an artistic masterpiece (albeit in 8 bits) and an accomplishment in design psychology. Continue reading It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! The Legend of Zelda and Fundamental Needs

Addicted to . . . Web?

Addicted to . . .Engagement is a huge concern for anyone who creates a web product, whether it’s a content-based site like this one or a more interactive experience like the online health coaching I used to work on.  It’s analogous to what former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said about medication adherence: “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” Websites don’t work if nobody uses them. So designers implement elements of behavior change science to make their products sticky, bring users back, and prompt desired behaviors. At least one author thinks they’ve gone too far and created an addicting experience that might benefit from regulation. Continue reading Addicted to . . . Web?

Case Study: Bad Data and the Group Fitness Challenge

Case Study- (1)This summer, my company sponsored an online fitness challenge for employees and contractors through our not-to-be-named wellness vendor. The goal of the challenge was to see who could get the most minutes of movement over the 35-day challenge period. Any sort of movement counted; you just either had to connect a fitness tracker for an automatic data dump, or manually enter your activities. Continue reading Case Study: Bad Data and the Group Fitness Challenge

Why the Human Doctor Will Never Be Obsolete

Why TheDoctor Will Never Be ObsoleteIf you are interested in a comprehensive overview of the current state of computer and internet technology in healthcare, I highly recommend The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter. Wachter, a physician himself, not only inventories the current state of health informatics, but also reflects on how the practice of medicine has changed as result of technology. Continue reading Why the Human Doctor Will Never Be Obsolete

The So-Far Wasted Potential of Big Data

The So-Far Wasted Potential of Big DataBig data has been a very hot topic in both technology and behavior science for some time now. People quickly grasp the possibilities big data opens. Theoretically, we can combine all sorts of rich information about individuals, from their shopping habits to their web browsing to their health records to their traffic violations, and use it to engage them in a product, sell them a service, or guide them to better health (I had to add at least one truly prosocial use there).  Continue reading The So-Far Wasted Potential of Big Data

Case Study: The Meaningless Countdown Clock and Autonomy Support

Case StudyA common best practice in user experience design is providing users with some kind of indicator of their progress on a task. Whether it’s the Domino’s pizza tracker alerting the hungry that their meal is on its way, a completion bar on a questionnaire letting the test-taker know how many sections remain, or a countdown clock alerting those waiting on line their expected hold time, progress trackers help to support autonomy and sustain engagement in a task. Continue reading Case Study: The Meaningless Countdown Clock and Autonomy Support

Case Study: Fast Food, Twitter, and Relatedness

Case StudyMany if not most major brands have a social media presence now, including a Twitter handle. Some brands, especially ones with a service orientation (such as airlines or major retailers),  are able to use Twitter to forge connections with customers and facilitate better responses in times of trouble (ahem, flight delays and lost baggage). When a corporate Twitter account interacts with users, it fosters a sense of relatedness that motivates ongoing customer engagement. Continue reading Case Study: Fast Food, Twitter, and Relatedness

Usability Fail: The Seamless Redesign and User Autonomy

SECRETHere in Boston, my go-to online food ordering service is Foodler, but in New York City, it’s all about Seamless. These sites, and their competitors, allow you to browse local restaurants delivering to your address and place and pay for orders online. It’s a convenient way to order delivery food without needing to use the phone or worry about having cash on hand. Continue reading Usability Fail: The Seamless Redesign and User Autonomy