There are clear principles we can refer to when designing a ‘persuasive’ experience. The way we enact these principles, however, depends upon our imagination and ingenuity. I am always looking for good examples to add to Bunnyfoot’s Design for Persuasion course and recently I found one that surprised me. Not because it is so novel, but because I had been interacting with it for some time without realising what was actually happening.
The other day, I was watching one of Louis Theroux’s old documentaries, called Gambling in Las Vegas. Theroux has tackled grittier topics throughout his career, but nevertheless, seeing people in the throes of a gambling addiction – a retired doctor claims she’s spent over $7 million in 10 years at the Las Vegas Hilton casino – isn’t easy viewing.
But the thing that interested me the most was the insight into how Vegas casinos (well, casinos anywhere) are specifically designed to keep people interacting with them as much as possible – even when it’s not in the customer’s interest.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because the definition of ‘dark patterns’ in UX is eerily similar.
In my previous blog, I talked about why creating an emotional experience through design is so important to a product/site/app’s success. But if you think about it, it’s odd that this is the case; we humans like to think we’re rational beings, superior to our animal counterparts; when we make decisions – to buy a BMW over a Tesla, to get our coffee from Costa instead of Starbucks – we make them objectively, based on logic – not instinct or emotion.
Persuasive design has received a lot of media attention recently. At the end of 2017, before Facebook’s more recent data leak difficulties, a number of high profile Silicon Valley technologists spoke out against the platforms that they helped build. Facebook’s founding president Sean Parker criticised the development of functionality that “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology” in order to “consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible”. The next day Chamath Palihapitiya, Vice President for User Growth at Facebook until 2011 said he felt “tremendous guilt” for his role in developing interactions that play on “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” to maximise engagement.
As human beings, there are few things we find as engaging and exciting as stories. Since our earliest origins, storytelling has been a way for us to communicate with one another – just look at cave paintings, for example.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a meet-up in London run by the Service Design Network, where we discussed how we can improve the way we design for those who are vulnerable, as well as how to build trust through design.
Building trust is not an easy task – but if businesses aren’t able to achieve it, or lose it, the results can be fatal (you only need to look at the recent news about Facebook to grasp the impact that loss of confidence can have).
Think about a piece of creative – whether it’s a television advert, an email, a website or a physical object – that has had a lasting effect on you. It’s likely that as you’re picturing it, a huge part of what you remember will be the emotion you felt at the time. When you think about it, you won’t just recall what it was and what it looked like; you’ll remember if the images made you smile, or if the copy made you feel inspired.
We recently ran our Design for Persuasion course where we look at ways to inspire trust, build emotional rapport and trigger action amongst your target audience. To get a good mix of knowledge and practical application we asked our participants to work on a design challenge, giving expression to some of the principles learnt.