Behaviour by Design

Product design that affects Behaviour

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Taking Behavioural Economics Into Product Design

An introduction to Behavioural Design.

If you are reading this chances are you are aware of the revolution that has been taking place in the economics field called Behavioural Economics. For those of you that haven’t been hit by this game changing idea I’ll try to condense it for you. Behavioural Economics is Economics where the individuals doesn’t always behave as rational cold hearted individuals that make decisions based on what's more economic beneficial for them. Instead of the classical approach this new insight into economics recognise that psychology plays a major part in the decision process. This new field has proved that individuals usually don’t consider every angle of a problem but use heuristics, rules of thumb, when confronted with any decision. Heuristics are fast simple rules of decision and can be wrong, therefore individuals will make predictable mistakes when facing challenges that are not as intuitive as they look like.

When designing a product designers often commit the same sin classical economist do, assume that the user will look at their design and rationally decide what to do with it. This is the reason why we see products that are carefully designed and yet, no user can get their hands on them without taking a look at the manual. Recognising that the user will not pay all the attention to your product, testing the interactions and refine the whole experience may seem as a solution for this situation. This is UX (User experience design) and is the approach most companies are using now to improve their products.

This seems like a reasonable approach, yet we are missing the true power of this concept. Heuristics can be used to predict behavioural outcomes,Why not harnessing the power of that knowledge into the design itself?. Learn from user psychology, the shortcuts the user will unconsciously use when interacting with your product and use them to guide them to their goals. Use strategies that help the users to take advantage their hardwired way of thinking. This is Behavioural Design.

Designs that use this approach from the moment of their conception can face new challenges such as “I want to make the user pay attention in this step” and “Make sure he will remember to do it”. Affecting behaviour by learning how we make the decisions that lead us to take certain action. After the design is done, and we build a prototype, then we can explore how the user experiences the resulting product and smooth the experience accordingly with UX. But, this new product will have less experience problems and will address new problems that classical design would never stop to think. That’s what makes Behavioral Design the tool you need to have products that are not only easy to use but reach your users.