We often work with people as if the only insights relevant to use are the experience and needs they have towards a service — i.e. renewing a blue badge — an issue — i.e. getting a job — or a neighbourhood.
But their experiences and expectations are shaped by similar experiences of using services, influences from their networks (i.e. “you can’t get a job through the job centre, so don’t sign on”) and the relationships the people they trust the most (have) had with particular services (i.e. parents who failed their exams at school) and external pressures (i.e. having to care for parents with dementia).
We need to move from customers with needs to understand the environment which shapes their motivations, behaviours and decisions.
I’ve found The Design With Intent Cards by
an excellent way to help you think through this creatively. From those cards, the below are the techniques I’ve found the most helpful.
Modelling users: Pinballs
The actual affordances of the system are designed so that only certain behaviours occur. It just silently structures behaviour: users follow the designers’ behaviour specification without necessarily being aware of it.
This view can lead to poor user experience, when the priorities of the designer and users conflict.
Nepal‘s Tribhuvan Airport issued staff with trousers without pockets, to reduce bribery by making it harder to hide cash
Give people stickers based on their skills & motivations to make sure each group has an effective balance of skills & motivations
Modelling users: Shortcuts
We make decisions based on how choices are presented to us, and can’t devote the same mental effort to engage with every decision. If something is the default, most people stick with it.
Get people on website to navigate straight to challenge
Modelling users: Thoughtful
Thoughtful users are assumed to think about what they are doing, and why, and change their attitudes and behaviour in response to reasoned arguments. Give your system plenty of information displays and feedback which allow users to explore the implications of what they’re doing, and understand the world around them better.
Provide people with context about the challenge that meets people’s different learning styles — conceptual (scenarios & methods), social (comment & discuss), factual (data & strategy) & action-focused (how to & methods)
Converging & diverging
Create space so people come together in specific ways.
The Errorproofing Lens treats deviations from the ‘target behaviour’ as ‘errors’ which design can help avoid, either by making it easier for users to work without making errors, or by making errors impossible in the first place.
The Interaction Lens brings together some of the most common design elements of interfaces where users’ interactions with the system affect how their behaviour is influenced.
Games are great at engaging people for long periods of time, getting them involved, and influencing people’s behaviour through their very design.
Provoke curiosity through changing the front page with user-generated content
Document and report the activities to keep participants engaged after the event and attract new people to take part in future events
The Perceptual Lens addresses how users perceive patterns and meanings as they interact with the systems around them, and puts them into forms which invite the designer to think about how they might influence people’s behaviour.
If designers understand how users make interaction decisions, that knowledge can be used to influence interaction behaviour.
Get people to share stories which provoke empathy
Show people what tasks other people have carried out
The Machiavellian Lens comprises design patterns which, while diverse, all embody an ‘end justifies the means’ approach.
The Security Lens represents a ‘security’ worldview, i.e. that undesired user behaviour is something to deter and/or prevent though ‘countermeasures’ designed into products, systems and environments, both physically and online.
See more at Design With Intent.