Interaction Design for Those Out of The Loop
The business for interaction design has changed.
Utility and usability once being the focal point of design is old news, new businesses are looking forward. Business models have changed. Traditional e-commerce business models and goals have shifted from a product and transaction focus to a service and freemium model, where the emphasis is on user engagement with social media. We’ve also experienced a generalised change in our understanding of how humans work which deeply underlies a lot of persuasive interaction design.
“With an aesthetic of convenience, you will never instil change. What you actually need, rather, is an aesthetic of friction.” Marc Hassenzahl (speaking at TED Nov 2011).
If you allow me to digress for a moment, a good working model of motivational behaviour (one put forward by Jonathan Haidt in the Happiness Hypothesis) is one of an elephant and a rider going into a jungle. We have the rider, the conscious decision maker, who needs goals and plans to get somewhere but he’s often not alert all of the time and gets tired from the heavy steering. The elephant, the thing that’s really in charge: this where the habits and automatic processes are stored up and reacts to the here and now in the physical world. And the jungle, the social and material environment, which arouses the elephant: this can be cultivated by the rider and it’s also where the rest of the herd lives.
We’re very good at making that jungle look fresh and seductive, this is what advertising is all about. We paint pictures of golden mountains and luxurious lifestyles after you purchase brand X and it affects the elephant for sure, but what current persuasive strategic campaigns often miss is the the rider, the key ingredient for a persistent motivational tie with the brand and this is deeply intertwined with interaction design.
There’s two ways to energise people enough to care. The first one is appeal to the motivational needs, speaking to the user as if you know what they’re caring about. And secondly creating need by delivering satisfying user experiences.
Nikeplus.com is one of the best examples around of appealing to motivational needs. Ever since after your first run it massages your ego with messages like, “Fastest kilometer ever? You’re untouchable,” and the like. These small messages do serve a long term relationship with your user and are going to naturally instill thoughts of pride and personal gain whenever thinking about or visting your website.
Sexy interaction design from Nike+
Codecademy’s user interface
This new way of thinking works by embedding small playful devices that act as a method to build a larger conversation of caring for your audience. Neon Bible (http://www.beonlineb.com/) and Osada (http://amanita-design.net/osada/) have prime examples of forward thinking interaction development succeeding 2011.
Interaction design needs to be playful but not pushy and amusing not annoying.