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Another Look at UX Design

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of user experience design and the psychology behind it based on an article from Web Designer Depot. As the concepts of user experience and psychology are vast and ever evolving, I decided to take a look at another viewpoint with a few other ideas.

Over at Smashing Magazine, Nadine Kintscher recently posted an article exploring these very subjects and how they combine, by analyzing what drives behaviors from a psychological perspective in Combining UX Design and Psychology to Change User Behavior.

Exploring what drives behavior (external factors such as rewards or internal factors such as enjoying an activity), the article provides examples such as achieving a set goal in an exercise app. It seems nearly obvious that people enjoy rewards, even if its as simple as a badge on a mobile app, even if they do not necessarily enjoy the behavior. Though, Kintscher points out that as rewarding users can be a great way to encourage behavior change, it’s best used for short terms, as rewarding people for something they’re already doing does not provide the same feeling of accomplishment or joy from the rewards.

As briefly discussed in the previous post, motivation and ability go hand in hand in user experience. The Kintscher article also utilizes the Fogg behavior model, stating that “for a specific behavior to occur, three elements have to be present at the same time: motivation, ability and triggers.” Again, if a user comes to your site with a goal, and they are given the tools to achieve that goal, they will then be more likely to trigger a response, such as buying your goods or services. The article at hand provides examples such as reminder notifications builtin to apps that could be beneficial, if the user has the means to complete the task.

Kintscher next points out that while all of the above mentioned methods are great and can work, not every user will have the same motivation or goals to achieve, and thus will not be motivated by the same rewards, or may simply prefer one trigger over another user. She suggests to tailor the three components to your target audience, providing a few tips to achieve this potentially monumental task.

  1. Map your users’ motivations. Ask questions to obtain a full understanding of how and why users will use your site or product, to ensure that a valuable experience will be developed.
  2. Assess Ability and Lower Barriers. This pointer relates to your users’ environment, which I discussed a bit in my post on context aware websites  -Where will users be using your site? Also, think about what their goals are, how will they be performed, as well as what may hinder their abilities? How can you avoid some frustrations (such as slow load times or confusing navigation)?
  3. Identify Triggers. Kintscher put this beautifully, “[…] how do you convert a users good intentions into tangible outcomes and trigger certain behavior?” She then points out the Fogg behavior model “shows that triggers are most effective when the user’s levels of motivation and ability are sufficiently high.” Thus, timing is everything.

While the tips provided in this great article aren’t complete, just as the last article discussed on the psychology behind user experience, they do help to put the designer on the right path towards success. Above all else, keeping your target audience’s motives and needs in consideration throughout the design process can lead to beautiful user experience results, and in the end allow both the business and their audience with a great outcome.