It’s easy to come up with examples of digital badges that don’t work, or are simply too silly to be serious tools for engagement. It’s far more difficult to take the positive perspective and determine the features that can make a digital badge an effective tool for behavior change. My interest in badges originally stemmed from a critical place, both from seeing badly done versions as a user, and having clients ask for badges without a thoughtful supporting strategy. But working through that critique has brought me to the following set of recommendations for doing digital badges well. Continue reading Five Best Practices for Digital Badges for Behavior Change
I have an ongoing problem. As an earlier adopter of Gmail, I have the “original” firstname.lastname versions of the gmail.com address for both my maiden and married names. This means that people with similar names often mistakenly receive email at my addresses. In the past several years, this has gotten much worse. Some of the emails I’ve received have included: Continue reading Mistaken Identity: How Do We Design for This Edge Case?
Designing effective forms is a tough but critical UX challenge. You’ve got to collect all the necessary information in a way that’s intuitive to the user and works on a variety of form factors. There’s a lot of work that’s been done on how to get form design right (I linked to a few comprehensive recent overviews at the bottom of the post), but one tactic that always catches my eye is injecting humor or interested into the experience. Continue reading A Little Personality Can Improve the UX of Forms
As a frequent flyer, I know how easy it can be to get caught up in a loyalty program. You could blame it on the occasional first class upgrades, the free checked baggage, or the special elite hotline many airlines offer their most valued members . . . or you could chalk it up to a brilliant application of behavioral economics and psychology.
I got interested in genetic testing for fitness a while back, but haven’t pulled the trigger on anything yet (besides 23 and Me, a few years ago before they got their hands slapped by the FDA). There’s a part of me that imagines a dream future where a simple genetic test can unlock my ideal diet and exercise regimens and then I follow them and become a fitness model. Yeah, I know that’s not going to happen. In the meantime, I’ve explored a couple of free or low-cost options to see how close reality might be to the dream. Continue reading How Is a Good Insight Like a Patent?
Conversational tone can help make a digital experience more user-friendly and fun. A lot of designers and content developers choose to give their programs a personality and use plain everyday language to reinforce a sense of approachability. Sometimes this manifests as comments like “This won’t take too long,” “It’s fun–we promise,” or “Wasn’t that easy?” But if you’re going to adopt that self-congratulatory angle–patting yourself on the back for a simple and fun user experience–you better deliver. Here’s a recent case where Starbucks did not.
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?
It’s easy to assume that some facts are self-evident when we create a product or experience. Even if logically we accept that nothing is obvious, it’s so easy to fall back on believing that some things are. Every now and then I encounter an example that shows me again how wrong that assumption can be. This time, it happened at brunch. Continue reading Case Study: Nothing Is Obvious
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
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.