Notes on Chris Risdon’s Shaping Behavior, By Design

(From a virtual seminar on’s All You Can Learn library)

“Choice Architecture…is organizing the context in which people make decisions” from Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Example of Choice Architecture:

  • A company redesigns their cafeteria to highlight the salad bar and healthy food options, while making the less healthy choices more difficult to see and get. The architecture is attempting to create a more health-conscious cafe layout to get employees to make more healthy choices. No choices were eliminated, some were just emphasized

As UXers, our products and services often live in an environment over which we have little control

  • But we can influence how people perceive, navigate and interact with that environment
  • Interaction design in especially key to this: it’s about shaping behavior and helping folks achieve goals
  • The closer tech is to us physically (think phones and watches), the more it becomes about us

Micro-interactions are generally about features and conversion. Think about Amazon’s one-click button

  • It reduces friction by reducing required interaction
  • It can be a win for the biz (more purchases) and the customer (quick shopping)
  • But there’s also a customer drawback: impulse purchasing is now easier!

Macro-interactions generally center around products/services and behavior change

  • Think smoking cessation, weight loss etc

This is behavior change as value prop:

  • Value comes from progress towards behavior based outcome
  • Data collection is prominent mechanism
  • Progress is measurable
  • Sense of augmenting ability
  • System makes prescriptive rec’s or guidance
  • Value prop is time released
    • But often with out of box initial value delivery

Fawn Ellis created this visualization about creating a meaningful relationship between people and tech:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 5.52.53 PM

We now have more direct relationships with products and services—a relationship that invites influence

Three ways to think about it

  • Collection (usually data and sensors)

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.11.17 PM

  • Story (framing and anchors)
  • Communication (feedback and feedforward)
    • Prep and Prompt

Framing data is powerful! For example, loss aversion is stronger than desire the to gain:

  • The options presented below are the same
  • But how they are framed drastically changes the outcome

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 6.17.57 PM

How do we add meaning to data?

  • People don’t want a relationship w their data—they want to achieve behavioral goals


  • Info about what will happen if a person follows a certain behavior
  • So imagine you enter a sub shop. Based on your purchase history and your weight goal, your phone buzzes you:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 7.49.46 PM

Mental models also come into play—what are people thinking, feeling, doing?

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 7.54.02 PM

Use some sort of experience mapping to develop empathy, understanding, insights:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 7.56.14 PM.png

Also consider the ecosystem—we might not be able to change it, but we should be aware anyways:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 7.58.01 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 8.00.40 PM.png

Chris likes a working session technique called OBI Backcasting:

  • It asks, If we want to achieve a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?
  • It envisions future desired conditions and steps to achieve them
  • O = outcome (future state achieved by behavior)—determine this…
  • B = behaviors required to achieve outcome—to identify these…
  • I = interactions that support the behaviors—in order to know what to design

Another technique: Insight Combination

  • On one side, list insights (clear, deep, meaningful perceptions into behavior in a particular context)
  • On the other, put patterns (a design pattern like pull-down to refresh or a trend like sharing economy that describes a possible solution based on solutions from other contexts)
  • Mix and match them together randomly in a timebox

Some tools at our disposal to design for behaviors include:

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 5.51.41 PM

Chris highlights a double diamond process for designing to shape behavior:

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 5.54.48 PM

The circles are: Feeling, Thinking, Doing; Empathy, Understanding, Insights; Outcomes, Behaviors, Interactions; Collecting data, Story framing, Communicating learnings

Chris finally points out that this is all a system, experienced over time with many different touchpoints—with several areas we can intervene in and a lot of different decisions to be made

About Chris (from his Twitter): Head of Behavioral Design . Formerly Head of Design , Ex-. Adjunct professor .




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s