Victor is a researcher and strategist for Philadelphia based design firm
Intuitive Company. His book Design for the Mind, which covers the application of key psychological principles to design is available for early access purchase from Manning Publications. Victor frequently writes and speaks on the application of psychology to design.
People have many tough decisions to make; whether they should use your application or website to accomplish a task shouldn’t be one of them. Your design team can take advantage of our knowledge of the human mind and human behavior by accounting for a number of heuristics, or mental shortcuts, that researchers have identified.
You might be familiar with the term “heuristic” from the UX research method of heuristic evaluation. A heuristic evaluation involves experts evaluating the interface and interactions of a system based on accepted usability best practices. Forget about that for now. In psychology, a heuristic is simply a fancy word meaning mental shortcut.
The “diffusion of innovations” theory of communications expert and rural sociologist Everett Rogers attempts to identify and explain the factors that lead to people and groups adopting innovations (new ideas and technologies). Design teams that account for both usability and how people adopt innovation stand a much greater chance of having users accept and use their products.
The diffusion of innovations is a complex process; design teams can use their knowledge of the theory to create a road map for how they will address critical factors in the design and marketing of their product.
As members of design teams, we want as many people as possible to use what we create. This is true whether we are designing a specialized medical device for a specific type of surgery or something more mainstream, like a smartphone or video game console.
We often focus on the importance of ensuring our product is usable. Less often, we discuss other factors related to people accepting and using our products. Users don’t automatically or simultaneously accept even the best ideas and most useful technologies. Acceptance and adoption happens in stages, and in order to stick, it has to happen the right way. Therefore, our design teams need to account for both usability and how the use of a product spreads across users in order for our work to have maximum impact.
What you say in a user experience matters. How you say it matters equally. The way you frame communication, or how you say something, could be extremely effective at persuading people to start using your product (or to use it more).
So, how do you frame messages effectively? This article explains how design teams can do so in a way that resonates with their users.
No person is immune from the influence of the people and groups they encounter. As much as we would like to think that every thought we have is original, that every opinion we express is informed by facts alone, the truth is that we use others around us as a reference point for much of our attitudes and behavior. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s human nature.
Knowing how groups influence people can help you to move from being a common, everyday, work-your-fingers-to-the-bone designer to a strategic influencer of your target audience with relative ease. In fact, whether researchers, designers or managers, everyone involved in user experience (UX) design would benefit from deeper knowledge of how to incorporate social influence in their work.