Psychology and Behavioral Design

Andrew interviews Victor Yocco, author of "Design for the Mind." They dive into the methods and benefits of using psychology and behavioral design to better serve customers.

Presented by
Andrew Verboncouer
Partner & CEO
Victor Yocco
UX Researcher & Author

Andrew Verboncouer:  You're listening to the Seaworthy Podcast, episode six, Psychology and Behavioral Design. Seaworthy is a podcast about building successful software. Today we're talking about designing more effective interfaces through psychology and heuristics with Victor Yocco, UX researcher and author of Design for the Mind.

Victor Yocco:   Hey everybody, Andrew here. excited to have a special guest on the show today, talking about one of my favorite subjects, designing with behavior and psychology. Welcome, Victor Yocco, author of Design for the Mind. How you doing Victor? 

Victor Yocco:  I'm doing great. Thanks for having me today.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, thanks for coming on the show. Appreciate it. 

Victor Yocco:   No problem. It's one of my favorite topics as well.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, perfect, can give us a little background on maybe your background and your history and experience kind of leading up to today. 

Victor Yocco:   Sure. So I am a researcher at intuitive company. And we are a design firm located in the management area of Philadelphia. If you're familiar with Philadelphia, and we do digital design, our clients are across industries, everything from financial services, pharmaceuticals, and health care to universities and museums. So get a broad client base and different types of products that we work on. And then my job as a researcher is to do different research methodologies with users to figure out the best experience we can create. And that's really where I tie psychology and as well. So not only is it what are we hearing from people, what do we see with we're observing people, but how do we make sure our experiences align with what we know about psychology, and that can come in to complement our methods, but it can also come in to make up for any shortages. So we don't always necessarily have the luxury of doing a lot of research with users, right.  And so if there's a shortage or an area where we feel like we need more information, and we don't have that luxury of getting it through research, we can sometimes make some educated guesses or help inform our decisions using what we know from psychology. So I spend a lot of my time designing studies and collecting data, interviewing folks doing usability testing observations, and then working really closely throughout that process with our designers and with our developers to make sure that it isn't a hand often it isn't different silos coming and throughout the entire design process. We're very interwoven. And I think that makes for the best product in the end. And it allows me to understand how what I do then becomes relevant to designers and to the final product that we create.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, that's a really good point, you know, empathizing, do you think that there's - obviously you said, you guys like to work collaboratively, you know, I think very similar to to what we do here, but you know, empathizing with what the, what the user is actually experiencing, and what the value is they get out of the software and their life, I think is important. Do you have any kind of thought processes or approaches to that on how you build it when research is kind of segmented from the actual visual design?

Victor Yocco:   Well, I think from our perspective, and the approach that I'm most familiar and comfortable with it, it really is looking for options entities to bring other people into the research process. So one of the things that has been a change, I've worked here for three years. And when I first started, if we had, let's say, an interview or usability testing sessions scheduled to researchers would go out and one would do the sort of implementing the protocol, while the other would be the note taker. And after a while, that became not only it took a toll on the resources to always have to have two researchers available for any type of research session that was going on, right. But it also meant we had to translate what we were finding to designers if they weren't involved. So one of the things that I started doing was having a designer come along, instead of another researcher, and they could be the note taker, or they could be the person who was also going to be observing while we were engaging in interviews. And so I feel like that's really helpful. And so is making sure that people if they're not involved directly during the interview, or during the research data collection period, that they get to be exposed to what we're finding in almost real time. So for example, if I have a phone interview with someone, I'll post the recording on our Slack channel for whatever project it is. And I'll say, like, you know, I don't expect you to listen to the full hour. But if you go to minute four, through 10, they talk really in detail about their current experience, and what's frustrating about it. And that really helps to make the most productive use of the designer or the developers time, but also let them really hear from the voice of the user, what they're experiencing. And I find that works with clients to if you can get them to either attend usability sessions, or listen in on interviews, after you've recorded them to make those available, that oftentimes it creates more empathy, like you said. 

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, that definitely makes sense. And I think, you know, one of those things, too, is, you know, we get a lot of, you know, we do a similar thing here at headway that we're an agency, we do design and development, but we get, you know, entrepreneurs that come to us with a lot of essentially assumptions and, and not egotistical, but, you know, believe that what they have in their mind is, is going to be a real solution versus focusing on the problem. And we find that that aha moment, a lot of times is when they actually start listening to customers. And it's not an opinion from someone, you know, a friend or family member or us on the team, it's actual insights from someone who is going to be a customer of the product. And we find, you know, building that empathy across the entire team being internal, external. And the client, of course, is really essential to making sure that we're focused on the outcomes and not necessarily the the input that we get.

Victor Yocco:   Yeah, well, said. I mean, I hear that a lot. And that's exactly what I experienced, which is, there is no real substitute for hearing from the voices of your users or potential users. And like you said, to oftentimes, even as designers or as a researcher, you can sometimes think about, oh, well, you're you're going to solve the problem. But you really need to do your duty and defining the problem first, to make sure that, okay, maybe everybody doesn't need a dashboard page to solve the problem at hand, maybe there's something else entirely different about the experience that isn't working, and what are people doing right now, as a workaround? How can you create a digital solution for that, and then go from there versus coming in very focused on, you know, what the solution is? So, yes, incorporating all that data is really important, I think, in doing up front and then throughout the design process. 

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, definitely. One of the things that I found is kind of sad, prepping for today is, you know, you'd recently written an article on heuristics or mental shortcuts, you know, many big tech leaders, right? They they eliminate decisions and take these shortcuts, you know, I think one of the most obvious ones is like Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, their, you know, their daily clothing choices the same, right, they want to eliminate that choice in their their willpower is maybe the same as, you know, your power ability to make decisions on a daily basis. You know, we do that as users all the time. I know, I do that in the software I use. Can you talk about the different heuristics or their mental shortcuts that we can use in design and build successful software and in generate these outcomes for users? 

Yeah, well, and I love heuristics. It's one of the things that I write about, not only my book, but as you mentioned, I have an article out on it as well through Smashing Magazine. And there are a number of heuristics. So I could write probably four or five more articles, I think there's at least 25 or 30 that have been identified through research in where where it comes from, is the field of behavioral economics, and they are really looking at how do people maximize their benefit through making decisions. And what they often find is people don't, and part of the reason they don't is because they don't have all the information available, or they don't have the mental capacity to make all the decisions using 100% great information. And so we we do things like we add emotion, and we assign values that aren't just based on monetary outcomes to things and into an economist that seems rather irrational, like, Oh, you should always make the decision that leaves you better off, why don't people do that. And so heuristics are, like you said, mental shortcuts. And one of them that I that I wrote about that I think is really interesting is called the default effect. And that's where people have a tendency to not do anything to mess with the default setting of a product or have something that they are receiving from somebody else with the assumption that an expert has already vetted the current state, and so why would they need to mess with it, and where this can cause trouble, particularly if you're designing a product for, you know, a lay person who is not very technically savvy is if you assuming correctly, then on your defaults, your experience is going to be not what it could be. 

Victor Yocco:   So if you're assuming everyone's going to go in and customize whatever it is their layout, or how they're experiencing your product, that's actually not going to be the situation for most people. And what's interesting, and what I think is worth noting, from a designer perspective, and from a developer perspective, is that studies have found that people who are in those types of creative thinking fields, they are more likely to manipulate settings. So if as a designer or as a developer, you're creating something and you think, well, I would go in and I would change things to optimize my experience, that's actually not what a lot of people will do. And so what that points to during the design and development stage is just that you need to understand one of two things, what are the optimal default settings. And one example that's out there that's been cited multiple times is that when Microsoft Word was for shipping, the auto say, function was turned off by default. And people for the most part, were running it without it being turned on. And probably most of them didn't know it was even a setting. And then when they asked people though, it was, Oh, well, why would I change things, Microsoft knows what's best for me. And when they asked folks at Microsoft, why it was shipping like that, it was just easier to coat it as a default off. The problem is, then if you don't have your auto save on and you start to lose weight, then that's something that was completely avoidable. But short of knowing and trying to guess what every single person's preferred default setting is, my recommendation is also make sure you have a really strong onboarding experience, or really strong experience that points out to people why things are happening. So if say, Microsoft was shipping and auto save was turned off by default, maybe have a message every so often that says, hey, it's been 10 minutes, and you've made a lot of progress in your document, but it hasn't been saved, do you know, you can default auto save to being on every five minutes or do you know you're not receiving these notifications, and I think slack does a good job of that, that they stay show you the highlight that if you want to, like activate your desktop messages, you need to go into your default settings. And so I don't think it's realistic to ask designers or anybody to be correcting guess what default settings should be for everyone, I do advocate making it clear that if you have settings that folks can adjust, and it really will impact their experience, make sure that you show them that and be clear about why things are happening, and how they might be changed if people do adjust their default settings. So that's one thing. One heuristic that I've written about. Another heuristic that I've written about is called the fluency heuristic. And that says, I think, similar to what you mentioned with Steve Jobs, and wearing the same outfit or the same type of outfit each day, is that people assume what comes to mind first, is the easiest choice to make, it is also the best choice to make. And so the less effort you have to assign to thinking about something, the better you think, oh, making that decision makes sense. And so when you're talking about your product, you know, you want to make sure that your product is the first thing that comes to people's mind when they think about solving the problem at hand. And then also that the options that are presented through use of your product are the top ways of solving for that. And so like, an example that I've used in the past is how Turbo Tax has sort of become synonymous for creating a good experience. And I'll often hear clients say, we want to be the Turbo Tax of whatever industry there. And and so because Turbo Tax comes to mind immediately for people when they think of a good experience that has become like what people think of as a good experience, and they don't necessarily have deep knowledge of what makes that experience so good. But it's like, oh, I've heard other people reference that, or also, it was the last product that I used for my taxes. And so I think that's a great experience. And that's also where the fluency heuristic can come into play, which is what is very recent, what has happened very recently, to jog people's memories of something. And so we hear about things like, you know, in the news, you hear about a lot of negative things like crime and terrorism and negative things like that. What the fluency effect suggests is, then after somebody would listen to a newscast and hear about these things, they're much more likely to think these things are significant and real and are happening and likely to impact them. Even if you were to pull back and say, from a statistical standpoint, it's very unlikely you will be the victim of something like a terrorist activity, if you've just heard about it on the news, you feel like it's very likely that something like that will happen to you. And it's because that's the first thing that comes to mind. That's what you're familiar with, having just heard, and so, you know, trying to think about how are you positioning your product, how are you surfacing advice at the right time, or help at the right time to make sure that it's relevant to people is important as well. And that's where things like contextual help, and tool tips can really have a major impact. So when you're thinking about your experience, and where people might struggle, you often have a tendency to front load information and say, you know, here's all the information and the FAQs. Or here's all the questions people might have. But think about also, what are the contextual real time opportunities so that people do have that immediate understanding of, Oh, I see why this is relevant, because it's popping up right at the time that I need this information.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, those are all very good points. Are there any that come to mind as as most powerful I know, one of the articles I read, you know, I think you mentioned four, and you said, there's 20+. Are there any other ones that stick out that we can think about when we design these experiences to better serve customers? 

Victor Yocco:   Yeah, so another thing that really has a lot of impact on people is, the amount of time that they spend when they're engaging in an activity becomes a substitute for value. And so that's called sunk cost. And people have a tendency to, once they feel like they've invested time in something they don't want to change. So if you're designing a product, you need to think about how you can make your experience really engage people deeper in a way that causes them to spend time and resources. So for example, setting up a profile that serves a number of purposes, that allows people to make themselves feel unique or feel like they're customizing their experience. But also, if somebody has spent the time setting up a profile in your product, they've also invested that time. And now if some other product comes along, that does something similar, they should based on the sunk time heuristic feel more obligated to stay with your product, because they don't want to spend time reinvesting in doing the same activity over again, or something like in the in my book, I use an example of an eBay where eBay is like, you know, the world's largest auction site. And something that's a feature of eBay is that people can set up stores. So they're not just auctioning one or two items, they have this entire inventory by allowing people to create stores, people are also spending a ton of time investing in uploading pictures and creating descriptions. So if eBay, the second generation comes along as competition, people will be less likely to want to go to that because they've already spent so much time investing in putting all their stock on eBay. And so thinking about where are there opportunities that you can design an experience where people are going to invest more time and feel more connected, is also going to make them more of a loyal customer, or loyal user over time as well?

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, yeah, that's a great point. One of the things that I wanted to talk about, too, is just in your book, you mentioned the BJ Fogg model for behavior, you know -  equals motivation, ability to trigger - you need those things present to design for behavior. But the other side of that is also - are you familiar with near EL's hook model?

I'm not super familiar with it, but I am familiar with his book, I have not read it yet.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Gotcha. So it includes a similar, so it's very similar to BJ's model for behavioral design, but it includes an investment step as part of that. And so that's interesting, you know. Definitely, we see people with, you know, completed scores, and we see that, you know, conversions increase when it comes to having, you know, having some kind of completed meter, you know, LinkedIn is, is very good at that. And I think they've been successful with it. Um, I don't know, the backend analytics of it. But, you know, being able to measure and essentially gamify part of that experience as an investment, you know, knowing that, hey, you've spent all this time you know, investing in creating your profile, and rating people endorsing people reading recommendations, it's very unlikely that you're going to switch to something else.

Victor Yocco:   No, that's exactly true. And that's where the sunk time comes into play. You know, people are highly aware time is a valuable commodity as much as anything else is, and that if they can accomplish something, they're not going to switch. And it's funny, because a lot of the research that has shown what the full name of the heuristic actually is the sunk time fallacy. And the reason it's called a fallacy is because where they've seen it play out negatively, is in big IT projects that have become over budget and gone well, over time, that often people will still keep pushing forward, these projects that have really become from an economic standpoint, in both time and money, you're better option is just say, okay, we've spent $2 million, but we should just cut our losses. Because if we keep going, we now see that it's going to be another four or $5 million to finish this project. And we only budgeted 2 million. But oftentimes, companies will say, keep moving forward. And it's because of this fallacy that, well, you've already come this far. It's it's valuable to get to the end, it's, you might you want to have something to show for it, or another areas, like relationships, where, after a while, you might start stop feeling like you're getting so much of a benefit from being in this specific relationship. But you look back and you think, but I've invested two years of my life with this person, or with this entity, that would all be for nothing, if I just end it now. And so people tend to stay in situations because of that sunk time that they've put in there.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, I think that that pertains to a lot of things. You know, for me, personally, I think I used to play professional football, indoor. And, you know, I kept telling myself, you know, this year's, the year! I kept training, I was training three, four hours a day, you know, I knew the dangers of it, you know, I played football and did a lot of research on the effects of, you know, the, just a brain trauma that happens and ultimately made the call to hang up the cleats, right? You know, despite that, that fallacy of, I've spent, you know, more than three quarters of my life pursuing this dream, you know, making it to the NFL, but it's interesting how that impacts, you know, looking how far you have yet to go. But, but just realizing how far you've come and trying to balance that when making decisions is, is hard in any context.

Victor Yocco:   Yeah, definitely. And, you know, it speaks a lot to the human condition of, of the fact is, we do way so much more than simply cost and benefit. Next, you know, black and white, when we make our decisions, there's a lot of emotion attached. And so that's one other. It's not necessarily a heuristic. But it's a principle that comes out of the same line of research in behavioral economics, which is, people are very loss of verse, so people don't like to lose things, versus the, the way that studies have found is when people gain something. So let's say you gain $5, you experience a certain amount of joy. Yeah, everybody likes to find $5. But if you were to lose $5, you would experience double the amount of pain or anguish that you felt enjoy for finding $5. And what that leads to is, people try to get back to this benchmark, or this baseline of zero, that they feel like they had if they were losing. And that's where you see riskier behavior starting to come into play. Like when people are gambling, and they say, okay, double or nothing - and so, what they found to through research is that when a loss is guaranteed, people are more likely to engage in risky or behavior to try to avoid that loss. But when a win is certain people are very likely to take the guaranteed wins, so they play it safe basically. You'll you'll be riskier, to try to avoid a loss, and you'll be safer to try to ensure a win. And that's just something to think about from the perspective of, I guess, also valuing your users and thinking like, you don't want to leave them feeling like they've wasted their time, or that they've experienced a loss from your product, because it's going to -  for every loss, they feel like they experience their it's going to sting much more than any positive gain or, or when, or satisfactory experience that they get from using your product.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Right. Yeah, that's a really good point. Do you want to talk more a little bit about just the BJ Fogg behavior model, and maybe some things that we can do, you know, as designers, as entrepreneurs, to, you know, design for those behaviors, and maybe some of the basics of it? 

Victor Yocco:   Sure. And I think it's a really fun model, because it's fairly simple. And there's a lot you can do with it. And what you described is, it's behavior, people engage in something, when they're when they reach a certain point of motivation, and they have the ability to do it, and then they're presented with what is called a trigger. So think of that as possibly a call to action. And so for motivation, you know, people have to want to do something, and, and from that standpoint, then that means they also need to understand why you need to make sure that the purpose of your product is is clear to people. And we talked about like, when people land on a web page, they look at it for under a second before they decide whether or not it's something that they're gonna stick around and do so from a from a persuasion standpoint, and the motivation standpoint, you want to make sure, then you're immediately showing the relevant information, and whether that's a visualization, whether that's a huge arrow, or a big thing that says, lose weight. Now, if you're a weight loss website, like you don't want to waste any time showing people why they should be motivated to use your product.

And then from the ability standpoint, it becomes people might be really motivated, like, let's say, I'm super motivated to buy a luxury car, but my ability is really low, because I don't have the finances to do it. So how can you raise somebody's ability, and that, you know, there's sort of that should be the real sweet spot for digital design, which is, how do we take all these things that, you know, take more time to do physically and condense them and make them as easy as the click of a mouse to accomplish and, you know, so take something like email that takes the place of sending a letter you for somebody who has a reliable internet connection, or access, even to a library where they can use a computer, their ability to send mail or send verbal written communication to people increases exponentially, just because of email. And so how do digital designs take something that might be much more difficult to do, and then present them in a way that is simpler, that increases people's ability. And an example that I use an unfortunate I guess I use too frequently is also Turbo Tax for that one. And it's because Turbo Tax take something that while people aren't super motivated to file their taxes, they're legally required to. And so most people have that as a motivation. So whether you want to or not, most people are going to file taxes, right. But the ability part is tough, because the tax code is huge, and very difficult to interpret for a lay person. And there's a lot of forms involved, the more complicated your income gets, the more complicated the tax return gets will Turbo Tax takes all that. And it says, don't worry about that. And they put a nice interface on top of what is technically a bunch of really boring tax forms, and then they also present it to you in a way that increases your ability to understand it. So rather than using some very stuffy government approved language around what is your current life situation, they asked you straight up, Hey, have you had a kid born this year? And it's like, yes or no? Okay, well, you that's all you have to think about. On the back end, they're doing all this work to increase your ability by saying, Okay, if they clicked Yes, attach this form in this form, and ask them these 10 questions. And then they're also giving you this the trigger the call to action, which is eventually filing your taxes or purchasing Turbo Tax, they do that at a very strategic location, which, so for Turbo Tax, you can go through all of the the workflow of entering your information, again, thinking about that sunk time heuristic in the play there as well. But then when you get to the end, you can't actually file your taxes until you agree to purchase the product. 

Victor Yocco:   And so they've shown you, they've given you the ability and the motivation, they've said, hey, look, you can use our product to accomplish this task. And isn't it easy, and then it's okay, now, you have to pay for it. And at that point, someone's going to say, well, I've gone through all this, I've seen how easy it is, even if I owe taxes, I'm not super happy about that. But what's the likelihood that I'm going to buy a competing product, and it's going to tell me that I don't know taxes, if I enter the same information, if you have, if Turbo Tax has done its job, and created this trust that what their tool is doing is reliable, the most people that are going to say, Okay, this is the product I'm going to go with. And so they can't get through that wall without either paying or qualifying, I guess, for the free version. But so that's when they present their trigger. And that's the, the other piece that's critical from BJ fogs model is so basically he says, if you have low motivation and low ability, and you present somebody with a trigger, there's nothing they're going to do, they're not going to buy your product, they're not going to find out more information, they're not going to click. So if somebody doesn't understand why they need to file taxes, it doesn't matter how easy Turbo Tax is, no one's ever going to say, Okay, take me to the free trial, or to the free start of the workflow. On the other hand, somebody might be super motivated, like in my car situation, but not have any ability to finance that car. And it doesn't matter what you do, you can tell me by now. And if I can't afford that car, there's nothing I can do. So you have to find that sweet spot of where does motivation and ability get to the point where presenting the trigger makes sense. And it's possible that you can manipulate those two variables to make it easier. So if somebody is low motivation, then you need to think about how can you make your experience so easy that they want to do it, even if that they can do it, even if they don't really want to do it. So maybe that's also something for, like the Turbo Tax Scenario where your motivation to file taxes might be super low. But you know, you have to do it. But their ability to allow you to do it also makes it too easy in terms of which product you end up wanting to use to file your taxes. And if people are having lower motivation, how can you show them that the reason for using your product is something that they should feel motivated to do. And maybe that's even around how you market your product. Or if you say, like, you know, we're going to have a time time bound sale, or you can have a free trial so that you can use the product for 30 days, and then realize, Oh, your life won't be complete without it. And then you are motivated to keep moving forward and using it. So it's thinking about how you can reach those optimal levels, and then present somebody with the by now click here, do x the call to action. 

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, and that's part of that scarcity heuristic of you know, they perceive it to be to be available for a limited time or, you know, limited time available to them, at least.

Victor Yocco:   Yes. 

Andrew Verboncouer:  So, you know, the motivation obviously is a big key to making sure you can be designed for a certain behavior, we focus a lot of time on the problem space, you know, doing interviews, gathering research, trying to understand people, you know, whether that's jobs to be done, trying understand why people buy certain things, or employ certain, I guess, competitors or substitutes over another. And, you know, what's the motivation behind that? Is there any, any advice that you guys have, or you have for people to to uncover that motivation, and maybe understand that a little better to see if that problem is worth solving? 

Victor Yocco:   So in terms of, you know, what their motivation is to use specific products? 

Andrew Verboncouer:  Their motivation to solve a problem. 

Victor Yocco:   To solve a problem... Well, I guess that part of that would come from understanding that there is a problem. And so sometimes it's, it's awareness and showing people how your product might apply to their life in terms of what is it that people have that currently they're using the solve a problem, and they might want to replace with your product. But also, when I think about how people are motivated to try to solve a problem with the product, it's usually because their current situation isn't isn't satisfactory. And so there has to be something that is motivating them to want to either make a change for themselves, or make a change in the broader like, I guess world or innovate for some reason. And so that's when people start to look for solutions, the way I've written a couple articles around what type of person is motivated to look for different solutions around the topic of innovation.  And so there are, there's research that shows certain people are motivated at different times, to start seeking innovative solutions. And so we think of people who are like the ones that are always at the edge of society doing this, like Richard Branson, or the name slips my mind, but the owner of Tesla and those type of people who are, they're called innovators. So they're the ones that are out there pushing for new technologies, and brand new solutions to problems that some people don't even know we have. And then there's people who come after them. And they're the ones who are like, waiting in line to purchase the newest iPhone release. And it's because they feel like they want to be early adapters is what they're called. And they want to grab on to newer technologies and newer solutions. And they find out about these things by watching what the innovators are doing the people who are setting the end. The funny thing is, by the time early adapters come on to the scene, usually innovators have moved on to something else. And it's because they have a very short attention span when it comes to the newest coolest thing, and they're ready to move on and solve a new problem. But then the rest of us who are more in the middle become adopters until you get to the point where there's people who are laggards. And the laggards are the people who have to like convince that if they don't update their technology, or if they don't grab on to a new solution or innovation, their current situation won't be supported any longer. So something like saying, you will no longer support Internet Explorer seven with your nearest your newest release, that might for some people to upgrade who otherwise would have never upgraded because they're currently there permanently fine with the status quo. So I don't even know if I really answered your question. But I took it down a way of talking about innovation, let me know if that was not that what you're looking for. 

Andrew Verboncouer:  No, yeah, I think I think that's good. I think, you know, it kind of goes into the next point that I wanted to talk about, which is just, you know, social ID or social identity and influence. And, you know, how that affects how people make decisions, you kind of alluded to, you know, the iPhone example of people want to be an early adopter for the next big thing, but really, you know, might be a connection to that social ID and influence that people have. Can you talk a little bit about about that?

Victor Yocco:   Definitely. Yeah, so social identity, and how people identify with groups is really key to not only like everyday life, but definitely how people decide what products to use. And what researchers have found is that in a lot of situations, people will engage in a behavior because of what they see other people around them doing. And it's not just random, it's not anyone that they see around them. But it's people that they feel similarities to people, they feel like they're in the same group. And so there's this specific line of thinking and psychology called social identity theory. And what that says is that people develop social identity theories, where they align themselves with various groups based on understanding who they are. So like, I know, I'm Victor. I'm a researcher, I use a Mac laptop, and yeah, I use Google Chrome. So these are characteristics I've assigned to myself, well, then I'm also go around and I'll start observing what other people are doing. And I'll classify them as either in group or out group. So let's say I meet somebody, and they're also using a Mac. Well, now, I know we're in group for that, at least for that trait, which is we're both Mac users. So extending from that, I might ask this person, okay, What software do you use to create prototypes in and I might be more likely than to use that software, because it's somebody who are in what I consider to be the same group as me. And where you really see thinking like this manifest itself in an obvious way, are things like politics, where somebody will say, you know, vote down the party line, don't even think about what what really the individuals who are running, what their beliefs are, and what their values are, what their policy stances are. But if you're a Democrat or Republican, you should vote all Democrat or Republican.  And you see that, so like, you know, maybe it's around music, if you're in a heavy metal fan club, you might start listening to all the same types of bands that the people you see that are also in the club or listening to, and there's, there's ways to really latch on to that in your product. You know, part of that is, has been really capitalized through platforms like Facebook, where people can see what other people are liking. People can see what other groups people that they're friends with her in, people can comment on what other people are doing. And people can share things like, you know, Amazon allows you to share what you've purchased immediately. And that's a way of saying through social identity, like, Oh, well, I see Andrew just purchased this book on Amazon, I'm going to take a look at that, because I know that I'm very similar to Andrew in the different groups that I'm a member of. And so that makes it more powerful. And it also reduces the amount of effort individuals have to spend in thinking about what it is that they might want to explore and learn new by looking at what other people they feel similar to are doing, and then taking on some of those interests.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, that's interesting. I mean, even with Facebook, you see, you know, people commenting and private groups, not private, but you know, different groups that necessarily you don't aren't a part of, you know, but you see that they've commented on there, and you can actually go in and join and, you know, like you said, last on to that and say, Oh, yeah, I think I should be a part of this group, too, because we both use envision, or we both use user testing. com or, you know, something similar to that.

Victor Yocco:   Yeah. And so something that is really interesting about all that is, how can So Facebook does it really well, you know, they have got the perfect platform for people to develop social identities and share things. So are there opportunities in your product to do something similar, whether it's through sharing, or whether it's through having an area that people conversation about how they use your product, and really, they're able to develop a community around that there can be some really positive benefits to having people align their identities with your product, or even like the first example I gave of being a Mac user, like how that there is a Mac versus PC way of thinking. And and both sides capitalize on that, in a way because people who identify as one or the other are going to purchase their products and evangelize their products to their other like minded peers.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah, absolutely. You know, we see that too, in teams, we see that in biker gangs, if you want to call them you know, you see the commercials where these bikers are dressing, you know, everyone's dressed in leather, got the straps on, chaps on but you know, they take those off, and they go to school or go to work as a doctor. And so conforming to those is interesting to observe.

Victor Yocco:   Definitely, it's a good observation, like, especially when you start to judge somebody based on one group they're in, and then you realize, Oh, hey, we all have dozens of groups were a part of and it might be when we're riding around with our biker friends that that's when we were our leather and ride our bike. And then when we're with our doctor friends, that's when we wear our white lab coat and stethoscope.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Right. So to be most effective in the design phase, you know, I'm sure using multiple elements of these design and psycho psychological principles at the same time, produces better outcomes. But you know, a lot of times you probably work with customers, and we definitely do that are trying to do things in the leanest way possible. So I'm curious if you have any kind of benchmarks, or any anything you believe to be the one or two key principles that founders or design teams can embrace an employee first when it comes to just creating successful and impactful design?

Victor Yocco:   Sure, so well, sadly, there's no one size fits all answer in terms of like a psychological principle. And I guess it's not even necessarily, sadly, from my viewpoint, it's not said because right to get to keep writing about things. But I would say that from a from ease of use ease of implementation perspective, a lot of the heuristics should be things that if you're not already accounting for them subconscious, you should be able to take a look at your design and start to identify opportunities right off the bat. So if you think about things like sunk cost, or like fluency, and showing people what to do, as they need to do it, or default effect and showing people how their default settings might be impacting their experience, those are things that you should be able to not only implement pretty quickly. But also, if you're working with a client convey the value of it pretty quickly. And so I've found that something that can be pretty immediately beneficial is taking a good look at your experience in identifying what you're already doing, and then learning how to talk about it. So saying, not only, okay, we've showed, we're showing people here, why they're not getting messages is because of their default setting.  But then also having just a few extra sentences that you can tell a client, you know, we know, people are not going to explore the product be, because that's not something that a lot of people have time are interested in doing. But by surfacing this information, we're likely to create a much deeper experience or allow them to customize their default settings in a way that's going to be much more valuable. And therefore, they're going to have a much more positive thought around your product, that when you learn how to talk about why what you're doing should work, that's also a really immediate benefit to clients and understanding your work. And from my perspective, as a researcher, I get to talk about that pretty frequently. But what is excited me, especially since the release of my book is that a lot of my designer colleagues are starting to take on those ways of talking as well and have found it to be effective and exciting to say, we're reorganizing the information on this page. And part of it is based on why you know, certain psychological principles that that we're adhering to, and we think that using are going to understand what's important quicker because we've included this information in an order that we found to be more effective at demonstrating to them the importance of X, Y or Z about this product,

Andrew Verboncouer:  Right. Yeah, and that's where that logic really becomes important especially with dealing with clients you know, you get people are my dog doesn't like red or you know, my grandma her favorite colors blue so we should make it blue or this should be there you know, for certain reasons, but pointing back to you know, observational data these principles I think is really powerful and and really fighting for the user you know, and what's best and trying to create a better world for them essentially through through the software that we create.

Victor Yocco:   Yeah, and I think that again, I sort of alluded to it but like I think a lot of what we do and we call good design is naturally tapping into psychology and so that knowing the psychology just allows you as a designer or as a developer or researcher to understand why it's working and then that's sort of also then empowering to say I understand why this should work and also if it's not working maybe taking a look at it through a different perspective or a different principle and saying okay we need to make some changes to address this.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah definitely. But yeah I appreciate you Victor leading some more insight into psychology design is behavioral design. Where can people follow you and learn more about what you do?

Victor Yocco:   So I'm on Twitter @victoryocco,  and that's v-i-c-t-o-r-y-o-c-c-o. And that's also my website is victoryocco.com. And then you can always send me an email at victoryocco@ gmail.com. And if you take the time to send a personal note I will take the time to send a response and then I also wanted to - my book Design for the Mind is available through Manning Publications on their website manning.com. And if you use the code 39Yocco -  three nine, yocco, and you order through the publisher you'll get 39% off the cover price.

Andrew Verboncouer:  Perfect. Well, appreciate you extending that discount and thanks again for being on the show.

Victor Yocco:   Absolutely, Andrew. Thanks for having me and I really enjoyed the conversation. 

Andrew Verboncouer:  Yeah thanks.  Thanks for listening to Seaworthy. Connect with us on Twitter @seaworthyfm and make sure to subscribe, ask questions, and leave feedback on the remarks. We'll see you again in two weeks.

show notes
  • Design of the Mind
  • Using Psychology and Behavioral Design
  • Methods to Better Serve Customers