Understand what drives user behavior.
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There I was, looking at an enormous wall of television screens. Each one flashed the exact same scene — a beautiful flower slowly blooming to reveal each petal, pistil, and stamen in exquisite super high definition detail. It was downright sexy. But now it was time to make my choice.
Would I buy the $400 television within my budget or would I splurge on the $500 deluxe model that somehow helped me understand plant biology in a new, more intimate way?
Though every cone and rod in my eyeballs begged me to buy the better one, my more sensible instinct kicked in. “Your budget is $400, remember?” Sighing, I bought the crappy model and braced for a life of media mediocrity.
What are the ethical responsibilities of companies that are able to manipulate human behavior on a massive scale? It’s a question one hopes technologists and designers ask themselves when building world-changing products — but one that hasn’t been asked often enough.
Operant conditioning, intermittent reinforcement, the search for self-actualization — the techniques used by product managers at the world’s largest companies are equal parts psychology and technology. As Sean Parker, founding president of Facebook, recently acknowledged, the company has long been engaged in the business of “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Nir’s Note: This post is co-authored with and illustrated by Lakshmi Mani, a product designer working in San Francisco.
You walk into your first yoga class. You’re a little insecure about your weight and how your yoga clothes cling to your body revealing every flaw. You’re nervous about making a fool of yourself.
Your eyes instantly zoom onto the fit model-esque people chatting in the corner. As you walk past them, your ears pick up the tinkle of laughter. My god, are they laughing at me?
You pick a spot in the back of the classroom where no one can see you. The teacher asks everyone to get into crouching fish pose. Do people know this pose?
You flail around on your mat and fall over with a big thump.
Technology is taking over our lives, especially in the workplace. What can we do to put technology in its place to finally get focused work done? Below are resources, tools, and articles for regaining focus in your digital life. These are tools I use myself but is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Full disclosure – I am an investor in Pana.com, one of the companies mentioned in the presentation. If you have tools and tips you’d like to suggest, please share them in the comments section below… Here’s my presentation on how to find focus at work by Slaying the Messaging Monster.
Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Janet Choi, Senior Manager of Product Marketing and Content at Customer.io
Meditation, like any healthy habit, takes repetition to stick. But while the folks behind Calm, a meditation and mindfulness app, knew their product’s core value was helping people to learn and build a meditation practice—initially they didn’t put too much thought into the practice part of it all.
That changed when they dug into their behavior data and discovered that users who had taken pains to schedule a daily reminder in the app’s settings were much more likely to stick around. When they proactively prompted new users to set a daily reminder after completing their first meditation session, Calm saw a 3x increase in daily retention — and according to their analytics platform Amplitude, this boost impacted weekly and monthly retention as well.
Calm increased the success of their product by making it easier for their users to remember to use the app for its core product value.
If you make web or mobile products, you’re actually in the business of task management. You’re counting on your product to become a recurring part of your customers’ lives. In order to accomplish that, you have to motivate your users to build a new habit. read more…
Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Max Ogles, who writes at MaxOgles.com.
On March 27, 1964, Kitty Genovese was brutally attacked and killed in the open streets of New York City. What makes Genovese’s story so tragic is that police later discovered numerous people were aware of Genovese’s distress but never came to her aid. Though the total number of witnesses is disputed, the story stands as an example of the bystander effect, the psychological phenomenon where people are less likely to assist if they know others are around.
But there’s good news. A 2011 research study showed that the bystander effect can actually be reversed. While it’s unlikely you’ll witness a murder, the bystander effect can occur online as well as off. Understanding how to get people to help one another is important for anyone building an online community.
Let’s take a closer look at why the bystander effect occurs and the critical research that shows how to reverse it. read more…
This blog is about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. I call it "Behavioral Design".
I write to help companies create behaviors that benefit their customers while educating individuals on how to design healthy behaviors in their own lives. Feel free to read more about me here.
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