What stops users doing what you want them to?

This is quite clever – a simple way of looking at user behaviour and the factors that influence it:

[Fogg’s] Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: MotivationAbility, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing.

Read more: BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model

Fogg’s Behaviour Model (FBM) is a work-in-progress study and discussion in human behaviour online. Dr. Fogg, the guy working on it, researches and experiments on how the computer medium can influence people’s thoughts and behaviours. Interesting, huh?

Solving health problems through good design

Highlights:

Design is the beauty of using constraints as advantages.

It’s one of the most haunting phrases in all of the human condition: ‘If only we had known, then maybe we could have done something about it.’ But of course, we couldn’t have known. Health happens in between doctor visits and the doctor isn’t there to get all of this data.

But for the first time in history, we have these things that sit in our pockets – they’re supercomputers[…] And we can start to tackle the problem of ‘if only we had known.’

22% of Americans never finish their antibiotics course. That’s despite knowing the hundreds of millions of dollars that the US has spent convincing people that they’re creating superbugs, that they’re not getting better.

So here’s the question – is it people’s fault, or is it the fault of the design of our intervention?

If it was a patch you put on yourself and it fell off after the right amount of time, forgetting wouldn’t even be a thing. We have to be designing our interventions to work the way people do, and people are highly constrained.

Game mechanics

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Every now and then, friends will hop onto a gamedev project and ask me to send them “that link you showed me before with the list of things”. Well, in case I lose all my bookmarks (this hard drive is clicking, I can hear it) and forget how to use my ever-changing, ever-bloating del.icio.us, here is the link with the things:

It’s a TechCrunch article from 2010 talking about the various mechanics used in game design. I like to look at it every so often because it reminds me of games that use those mechanics, arming me to daydream about games I loved, hated and would like to make one day.

Super useful. I can’t remember who sent it to me originally, probably @shadowmint.

When cool goes mainstream and becomes less cool

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Do you guys remember Airwalk, the skate shoe that was all the rage when we were kids?

Through ’95 and ’96, Airwalk created a shoe epidemic by staying close to what their customers wanted, then channeling their understanding into innovative products and creative, appealing advertising. But things took a turn once they got big and neglected the core stuff – what their customers actually wanted – that earned them their fame.

In case you can’t be bothered reading, the key takeaway is that it pays to keep our users at the heart of our decisions – whether designing products, websites, campaigns, brands or tools.

For those interested, this is the story of Airwalk’s decline:

The Airwalk epidemic did not last. In 1997, the company’s sales began to falter… In critical locations, [they] failed to supply enough product for the back-to-school season… [and] began to lose that cutting-edge sensibility that it had traded on for so long.

“When Airwalk started, the product was directional and inventive. The shoes were very forward,” said Chad Farmer [creative director at Airwalk’s ad agency, Lambesis]. “We maintained the trendsetter focus on the marketing. but the product began to slip. The company began to listen more and more to the sales staff and the product started to get that homogenized, mainstream look…”

Lambesis’ strategy was based on translating Innovator shoes for the Majority. But suddenly Airwalk wasn’t an Innovator shoe anymore. “We made another, critical mistake,” Lee Smith, the former president of Airwalk says. “We had a segmentation strategy, where the small, independent core skate shops – the three hundred boutiques around the country who really created us – had a certain product line that was exclusive to them. They didn’t want us to be in the mall. So… we segmented our product.” … The [Innovator customers] always got to wear a different, more exclusive shoe than everyone else. The mainstream customer had the satisfaction of wearing the same brand as the cool kids.

But then, at the height of its success, Airwalk … stopped giving the specialty shops their own shoes. “That’s when the trendsetters started to get a disregard for the brand,” says Farmer. “They started to go to their boutiques where they got their cool stuff, and they realized that everyone else could get the very same shoes at J C Penney.” The epidemic was over.

Smith says, “Cool brands treat people well, and we didn’t. I had personally promised some of those little shops that we would give them a special product, then we changed our minds. When we became bigger, that’s when we should have paid more attention to the details and kept a good buzz going, so when people said you guys are sellouts, you guys went mainstream, you suck, we could have said, you know what, we don’t. We had this little jewel of a brand, and little by little we sold that off into the mainstream, and once we had sold it all… so what? You buy a pair of our shoes. Why would you ever buy another?”

Abridged excerpt from The Tipping Point (p. 213-215) by Malcolm Gladwell.

Picture from Ninetiestalgia: October 2010.

Food packaging influences how we perceive tastiness

A new study from the UK has found that biscuits seem tastier when they come in fancy packaging.

The biscuits that were given with their packaging scored significantly higher overall, and were perceived to taste better than their wrapper-less counterparts.

Read the article: Tastiness All in the Eye of the Biscuit-Holder

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How to create a social media addict

“Frequently, social media platforms don’t provide the psychological incentives and rewards that encourage users to revisit, contribute knowledge, and thus cultivate the strength and relevance of the online community.”

How a user gets from n00b to pro in an online community:

OnlineCommunity

Tl;dr – Answer the questions in the flowchart to appeal to that type of visitor.

Source: How to create active online communities (Australian Psychological Society)