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poetpainter Designing for Experiences,2005:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562 Textpattern 2013-09-12T15:56:26Z Stephen P Anderson Stephen P Anderson 2013-09-12T15:34:49Z 2013-09-12T15:56:26Z From Paths to Sandboxes [4],2013-08-15:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/c7980a2b8e5c51d1593e35e5b7963fee I’m working on a new talk, tentatively titled “From Paths to Sandboxes.” I hope to share the journey I’ve been on, from trying to shape and influence a users’ path, to creating engaging environments where people may determine how and under what circumstances to best engage with a system.

Stephen P Anderson 2013-08-22T15:08:40Z 2013-08-22T15:30:32Z Introducing the Mental Notes Behavior Cube! [2],2013-08-22:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/1a15c15dfa622e50921f5bb4d6b17cd4 When I created the Mental Notes card deck, I shied away from creating a framework for using the cards. Other than keywords suggesting how a principle might be used (for persuasion, memory, attention or understanding), there is no kind of classification system. As I explain in the instructions:

Early on, I had planned on having color-coded borders, icons and other information by which to group these principles. In the end, however, I found these to be unnecessary. While a solid framework would certainly be helpful (see “Chunking”), many of these ideas are simply too rich to classify into discrete categories. That, and there’s a certain magic in being able to organize (and reorganize) your cards as you see fit. As with music, it’s the song with fewer notes onto which you can add your own harmonies—my hope is that you’ll discover your own patterns and uses for these cards. Share your frameworks with other people. I’ll be doing the same at and in upcoming workshops and presentations.

That was 2010.

So what’s happened since then?

A number of great frameworks have emerged, each offering a different perspective by which to discuss principles of human behavior. Some of my favorites:

From the numerous workshops, talks, and smart conversations that have followed since the publication of the deck, I’ve observed some recurring patterns of use. While I do encourage a very random “draw one idea and try to apply it” approach (the cards are a tool for brainstorming, after all!), there are some logical ways to group the cards. As an example, when it came to write the chapter in my book that comments on gamification, I started by focusing on 8 principles that I consider core motivators; this includes things like Curiosity, Competition, or Self-Expression.When you strip away all the other trappings that make something a game, these are what’s left at the center (or what should be at the center!).

Designing for emotion has attracted a lot of attention over the last several years. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the conversation often narrows in on very a specific set of examples, namely those things that excite the brain. This includes humor, surprise, tone & voice, visuals—things related to personality. While this is certainly important, it ignores much of what is (or should be) included in conversations around emotion. For example, without emotions, we are unable to make decisions. This has less to do with feeling elated or sad, and more to do with the emotional center of our brain telling the executive functions to “just pull the trigger—this is what we should do!” This applies to everything from choosing what to wear in the morning to making difficult financial decisions. The field of behavioral economics has essentially shown that we are not rational creatures. Our motivations are often irrational—why else would we care about mayorships or closing an information gap ?

It’s this narrow definition of emotional design that was the catalyst for what I’m about to share…

Catalyst for the “BeCube”

I was recently invited to do an internal keynote where the theme was designing for emotions. I was struggling to adapt my talk (essentially about human behaviors) to the emotional design theme; this is when the gap between what I normally discuss and the more popular emotional design conversations became evident. Opportunity: I could open by talking about humor, delight, visual imagery, and then segue into the broader view of what it means to really design for emotions, thinking about how we make decisions, how we perceive things, what motivates us and what reinforces those motivations. It’s this line of thinking that led me to create the Mental Notes Behavior Cube:

Mental Notes Behavior Cube (assembled)

Nope. This is not a 6 sided die you roll. Each side is a lens by which to organize principles of human behavior. One of the things that kept me from creating a framework before was that many of the principles don’t fit neatly into one category or classification. The brilliance of a cube metaphor is that you’re essentially looking at the same set of things, but from one of 6 different perspectives. As you change the focal point, a different cluster of things rises to face you. It’s okay if the same principle shows up on three different sides—it’s not sloppy thinking! It is this metaphor freed me up to suggest 5 different groupings or ways to discuss the principles of human behavior identified in the Mental Notes card deck.

Those 5 groupings, or lenses, are as follows:

  • What directly engages our emotions?
    More accurately, what excites or arouses the brain. This is the stuff that normally dominates conversations about emotional design. This includes things like humor, sensory appeal, visual imagery and so on.
  • What shapes memory and perception?
    Our memories of a past event and our experience of a current event are both a process of active construction— our brains working to find patterns in all the active neurons (or something like that!). All the principles in this lens deepen our understanding of how things like stories, beliefs and memories are formed.
  • What motivates us?
    These are core motivators. When you peel back all the layers, this is why we do most of the things we do. Go any deeper than this and you get into drives (sex, hunger, safety).
  • What encourages or discourages us?
    These are the things that keep us going or keep us on course. Often confused with core motivators, these the reinforcers, the things that say “good job!” or “meh, you need to work on that some more…”
  • What influences our decisions?
    These are those things that, in the moment, spur us on to make a decision or take action. You may know what to do, but these are things that trigger that action.

…and all of the principles organized into these 5 lenses answer the question “What motivates specific behaviors?”

To be clear, these lenses all compliment each other nicely, and the boundaries between the focal areas are fuzzy lines, not hard distinctions. But, I feel like this is a great structure for moving forward the practical design conversations focused on principles of human behavior.

If, for example, I’m speaking with a client about making something playful, I can start by talking about a few core motivations— why someone might care in the first place. Then we can talk about ways to encourage that behavior. We can then talk about ways to excite people, influence decisions, and so on. As with the Mental Notes, we’re talking about timeless principles of psychology, not the surface level mechanics that get so much attention (a “progress mechanic” only works because of the principles of Status, Appropriate Challenges, and Sequencing).

Mental Notes Behavior Cube (unassembled)
The Mental Notes Behavior Cube.pdf

All in all, I’m rather satisfied with the model, and excited to share it with others. It’s a fairly simple and straightforward organizational system, but the thinking to get to this point didn’t happen overnight. As with all ideas, I’ve given it a version number– I’m sure it will continue to evolve. But, it’s ready to be released into the wild. So… enjoy! I’m offering this as a free PDF, my way of giving back to others, and continuing the conversation. Let me know your thoughts and how this might work for you!

Stephen P Anderson 2013-02-28T01:46:12Z 2013-02-28T16:18:52Z 2012, the Year in Review [2],2013-02-27:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/15b1213cb825517ba62da30723f0c99a 2012
While this blog rarely gets any attention from me, I have continued to write and contribute in other places, both online and around the world. Before I slip much further in 2013, I though it might be worthwhile to gather some of the highlights and details that made 2012 a truly blessed and wonderful year for me.

Stephen P Anderson 2011-03-10T05:28:16Z 2011-03-10T05:29:25Z 4 New Presentations!,2011-03-09:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/03c0bd1b52d54423a078f5c4398262c1 I’m excited to announce four (really, three and a half) brand-spanking new presentations I’ll be revealing over the next several months.

Stephen P Anderson 2010-08-24T21:40:59Z 2010-08-24T22:31:12Z Radio Silence No More? [3],2010-08-23:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/ff793d2a520765b7d36c651878815c31 Before I try jumping back into my meager two-posts-a-month-habit (I do have some interesting things to write about), here’s a very brief recap of what “the PoetPainter” has been up to…

Stephen P Anderson 2009-06-23T17:08:09Z 2009-06-23T17:08:09Z My Thoughts on the New Site [3],2009-06-23:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/53dab71f6fe74610b92ac34e75010427 Last month, I was interviewed by Jon Ward of the Washington Times for an article about the new Web site. The article, published this morning, speculates that “information is harder to find on the Obama Web site than it was on the site created and run by the Bush administration.” Since the views represented in the article do not necessarily reflect my own, I thought it might be best to share my personal thoughts on the redesigned site...

Stephen P Anderson 2009-04-27T15:13:04Z 2009-04-27T16:29:39Z Advice to A New Manager [5],2009-01-27:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/979f2baa44a975ce43dde33c05748ab6 A good friend of mine recently stepped into an art director role and asked me for any advice I might have. I started to respond via email, but figured other people might find this useful. So, here you go…

Stephen P Anderson 2009-04-21T06:48:36Z 2009-04-21T07:19:43Z The Art and Science of Seductive Interactions [5],2009-04-20:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/3b3ceb2a65e74c653a1730dc7b8674d0 How do we get people to stick around long enough to see and evaluate the value we’re offering? Or, to put it more crudely:

How do we get to first base? (with our users!)

This is the topic of my most recent presentation, “The Art and Science of Seductive Interactions,” in which I explore some of the more clever ways sites are leveraging basic human psychology to create what I would describe as “seductive interactions.”

Stephen P Anderson 2009-03-27T16:33:34Z 2009-03-27T16:38:06Z The Fundamentals of Experience Design [3],2009-03-26:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/ee2b3190b575a81e8e2e9e5ff2e9c855 Photo of my poster presentation at the IA Summit 2009

For some time, I’ve described the design of experiences with this potent little phrase:

It’s all about People, their Activities, and the Context of those activities.

That’s it, really. Whether we are designing a Web app or new office building, simply ask: Who are the people we are designing for? What is the activity (or activities) they are trying to do? And what are the contexts in which they are trying to operate? And ‘people’ can be an individual or group. It’s that simple. On the surface…

Behind every explicit piece of information, we can dive much deeper for a richer understanding of the space in which we are designing. People are much more than users (or markets, prospects, players, stakeholders, or…). An exploration of activities yields more insights than simple task or use case definition. And context is so much more than a device or platform— from the environment we as information architects define to the environmental and economic context in which we work.

It’s these ideas that form the basis of my “Fundamentals of Experience Design” Model, which I had the pleasure of unveiling at the recent IA Summit 2009 conference . Think of this as my “grand, unified model” of experience design. Or something like that!

Download The Fundamentals of Experience Design model
(10M print quality pdf file!)
Download The Fundamentals of Experience Design model
(not quite so large 2M png file)
Stephen P Anderson 2008-12-19T18:01:37Z 2008-12-19T18:01:45Z Rock Bands, Guitar Heroes and Management Theory [8],2008-12-18:c07ff208c08afcdd6a9c0facfc451562/105d5c94917ef9741c40642837437373 What do rock bands and guitar heroes have to do with management theory? This was the topic of my recent a recent presentation:

Groups and organizations, just like musicians, don’t all work and behave in the same way. In this presentation, I look to the music industry to describe four organizational archetypes—each with a different set of values and ways of working. By understanding each of these work cultures, the culture we work in, and the work style that best fits us personally, we can make sense of the conflicts we face at work and become more effective at our job, whether we’re employees, managers or—rock stars!