Digital badges to encourage behavior are a fine idea in concept but riddled with issues in practice. I talked about badges at UXPA International last week (slides here), including a whole host of reasons why they go awry. One of the biggest ones, in my opinion, is that designers may choose to award digital badges for behaviors that aren’t really critical ones for obtaining meaningful outcomes. Instead, they reward behaviors that are easy to measure (like clicks or check-ins). The result is a reward system that doesn’t actually lead to results. Continue reading Awarding the Right Behaviors in Digital Design
What constitutes a meaningful choice for one person may not be meaningful to another. When I presented with Raphaela O’Day at SXSW a few weeks ago, we talked a lot about packaging decisions in a way that made sense to the person making them. This is where competence and autonomy intersect; a choice can’t be meaningful if a person doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise to make it well. Continue reading Making Choices Meaningful: At the Intersection of Competence and Autonomy
Companies that do “year in review” features for their customers can often spark continued engagement by supporting the key psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. By reviewing all of the customer’s activity, showing how it adds up to bigger outcomes, and how the customer is part of a larger community, the reviews can make people feel like their consumer habits were meaningful. I’ve received these sorts of round-ups in past years from Map My Run and Blue Apron and found them engaging. Continue reading A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines
Last week I went to the Innovation Learning Network in Person meeting in Austin, TX. Part of the agenda was going on a mystery “innovation safari” to a local organization thinking innovatively about health and wellness. My assignment was to go to the Community First! Village, operated by Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Full disclosure: I was skeptical based on the limited information I had boarding the shuttle to go to the village. Continue reading A Behavior Change Perspective on the Community First! Village in Austin
After I posted about seemingly obvious information not necessarily being obvious to the people we design for, someone reached out to me on Twitter to challenge my points. We went back and forth for a bit, disagreeing on whether to design for what he called “the lowest common denominator” of user, someone who is not knowledgeable or engaged. His concern (as I interpret it) was that in targeting that type of user, we reduce the utility of anything we build for the people who might be better equipped to use it. And so I found myself wondering, does making it easy mean designing for the lowest common denominator? Continue reading Does Making It Easy Mean Designing for the Lowest Common Denominator?
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
Sometimes I think the formal study of behavior science is really about putting names and a framework around concepts we already intuitively understand. After all, we are all human beings experiencing attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions every single day. That doesn’t mean we know how to talk about it or fully understand the nuances that determine when something is more or less likely to happen, but your average person does have more of a sense for psychology than for, say, nuclear physics. Continue reading How A Revolutionary War Hero Used Modern Psychology
If you’ve ever seen me do any version of a talk on motivational design, you know I’m skeptical about the utility of badges for engagement. It’s not that badges are a bad tool. It’s that they get misused. Programs may award a badge for the wrong behavior. Or the badge may encourage cheating and shortcuts to get the reward. Or, while a virtual badge rarely carries any real value, it might be too much reward for the behavior, eventually leading to lower engagement levels. So, I was surprised to see that an effort to award scientists digital badges displayed alongside their publications in search results was gathering momentum. Continue reading Why Do Scientist Badges Work?
Opower 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
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