Design For Action Conference Takeaways

Yesterday, I attended the Design For Action – Behavioral Economics Meets Product Design conference that was organized by Action Design, an organization with meetups in DC, NYC, Boston and SF. I have enjoyed attending a few of their meetups in the past and I would have to say that the conference was great!

So as my first blog post, here is a roundup of 8 things that I learned at the conference:

#1: Well being is made up of thousands of small decisions and about 40% of our daily decisions, we don’t even think about. 

Speaker:  Kelvin Kwong, Jawbone UP

Takeaway:  Sometimes we need to think about designing for a series of longitudinal interventions leading up to a bigger decision rather than thinking of the big decision as a single event. An example of this is the Foot in the Door Technique, which is asking users to complete a small task, and then following up with a BIG TASK, creating a higher chance of the person actually following through.

#2: We follow our gut intuitions to make decisions. Our gut intuitions are not always right. 

Speaker:  Kristen Berman, Irrational Labs

Takeaway:  People can sometimes be their own worst enemies. We don’t always make the best decisions for ourselves. When designing for people, it is important to immerse yourself in their environment and isolate their key behaviors to get a clear picture of their preferences.

#3: People don’t care about the data, they care about the outcome of the data. The data is just a means to an end. 

Speaker:  Chris Risdon, Adaptive Path

Takeaway:  Consistency is more important than accuracy. With consistent data you are able to see patterns in behavior and understand the context in which a product is being used.

#4: Users are not designers, they are experts on themselves. 

Speaker:  Wendy Chiong, Answer Lab

Takeaway:  Exploratory UX research allows us to observe people in their natural environments and understand the context in which problems occur early on in the design process. Examples of exploratory research include: ethnography studies, simulations of the environment, and having users participate in innovation games.

#5: Because the object (product/service) of a review is also the audience of the review, there are biases in feedback systems for online marketplaces. Fear of retaliation, Induced reciprocity, and discomfort (guilt, self-doubt, awkwardness) are some key biases that come into play.

Speaker:  Matthew Pearson, Airbnb

Takeaway:  In shared economy products/services where review systems are key features that validate a provider’s trust and reputation, it is important to design systems that nudge people towards honesty and transparency.

#6: Quality of motivation is more important than quantity. Quality motivations such as intrinsic motivation lead to quality behaviors of people’s own volition and willingness.

Speaker:  Dustin DiTomasso, Mad Pow

Takeaway: Appeal to people’s human needs when designing products/services. People want to feel a sense of competence + mastery, autonomy over their actions, and to relate experiences with your product/service to others they’ve used in the past.

#7: Hassle factors are things that derail you from taking an action. They can sometimes be used for good by making it harder for you to do things that you may not want to do. 

Speaker:  Josh Wright, ideas42

Takeaway: Hassle factors can come in a variety of different formats. One example is choice overload. When people are presented with too many choices they are less likely to make a choice than if they are presented with fewer choices. As designers, it is important to test our products on users, but also understand the hassle factors that make it more difficult for them to get what they need.

#8: Paths and Sandboxes. We should think about how to make awesome users by allowing them to play in sandboxes. 

Speaker: Stephen Anderson, Author Seductive Interaction Design

Takeaway: Paths shape people’s behavior, lead people along, have predictable outcomes, are measurable, design every detail and create dependency. Sandboxes are platforms and social spaces that create engagement, let people explore, have unknown outcomes, under-specify design, are observable and generative. Combining elements of both in design allows people to explore and engage within a product while offering some guidance so they don’t get lost.

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