Recently we organised the Behavior Design meetup. Dan Lockton (UK) presented about Design Intent. He talked about how people give a device, interface or product a meaning. Even if they don’t fully understand what’s going on.
Giving meaning to something helps creating context and gives some sort of control. Not being in control, even if this is by great design, can result in a bad product experience as well. If you don’t trust the input, how can you trust the output.
I really like the view Dan has on design. Instead of seeing design as a something formative that tries to steer behaviour he has a much more adaptive approach where design has to change, add and adapt to existing behaviour.
Kenkodo Metabolism based Body Tracker
One of the presentations was by Josephine Worseck about the Kenkodo Metabolism tracker.
The Kenkodo tracker is a personal metabolism tracker. Based on regular blood analysis and activity it aims to give you personal insights in what does and what doesn’t work for you.
This is also the most fundamental issue surrounding Quantified Self. Through all these trackers we are able to measure and gather an enormous amount of data. It’s really hard to turn this data into information.
I’ve been a Fitbit user for years. The device is great in telling me how many steps I’ve taken. It doesn’t tell me when to relax. At the end of a day I can be tired without having walked much. Other days I have been way over the 10.000 steps and still go for an evening run.
It’s just not as simple a taking one stream of data and acting upon it. Our internal sensors are still quite hard to beat. And for now this seems the biggest challenge surrounding the self tracking movement.
How to get from data collecting to valuable personal coaching.
I’m really intrigued by Behavior Design. With software going mobile and wearable, designing for behavior is the next fronteer. With two friends we decided to bring Designers, Researchers, Developers and Entrepreneurs together to explore what’s going on and what’s next. Resulting in a quarterly meetup rated 4 stars and higher and over a 1.000 members in the community.
Last thursday we organized the 4th Behavior Design meetup. A gathering in Amsterdam where we connect designers, scientists and entrepreneurs to share ideas and lessons about behavior design.
Who’s in control?
We touched the discussion about the implications of designing behavior without people noticing it several times. Overal people are confused about this topic.
Nir Eyal â€“ one of the speakers â€“ said behavior design will have a wear out effect. The same effect you notice when you look at old commercials. “Did people really believe this?”.
Attention as a business goal
In the digital landscape the design of a digital service that forces itself into your lifestyle can be an important business goal. Digital services are often focussed on attention and engagement.
Behavior design helps these services to succeed their goals. The addictive design elements in Facebook are an important part of it’s success (“you’re tagged in a photo, want to know what’s on the picture, come and visit”).
Is this right or wrong? It’s an interesting question because you usually don’t notice behavior design. The idea is to influence your behavior without you noticing. The result is that it changes something real. It changes the choices you make or it changes how you spend your time.
A designer has always given meaning to a product or service by it’s design. Even if it’s not intentionally. Design is about making choices and choices are as much about what you do as what you don’t.
In the end behavior design is just like any other design tool. You can use it for good or bad. Designers can have a role in pointing out where it’s being used and what for. Since if you design this stuff, you’re likely better in noticing it.
The other thing that came up in the discussion is that effect or addiction in digital products is measurable. Facebook knows what group of people is unhealthy addicted to their service. You can design behavior for this group as well.