About Behavior Design: The Right Way to Start With Your Redesign in 2016

Imagine with me for a second…you just arrived at work while being stuck in traffic or stood the whole time in a crowded train. You even tweeted about that one annoying guy that stepped on your shoe and didn’t apologize.

Pretend further that you just got some coffee and flipped open your laptop. You still feel annoyed about what happened, while logging into Facebook. You waste no time and update your status.

Sounds familiar?

Well, that is why the best design solutions, and startups, today change human behavior. Just look at Instagram (document every moment with your phone), ManPacks (ease of use in trying something new) and yes, especially Pinterest.

Whether it is to save energy in your house or get more people to sign up for your service, there’s plenty of reasons to know more about behavior design and change.

There are still challenges for startups who design to influence. (Web) design impacts behavior.

When you know how to impact behavior, you can design for behavior. Since every design decision influences the user.

Today we’ll talk about what drives behavior change, how are triggers are being used by startups, and, most importantly, how to harness the power of hot Triggers to move your customers and readers into action.

Focus Points in Behavior Design

  1. People are lazy beings. The 6 elements of simplicity helps us to deal with this reality. Looking through this lens, we can assess why many designs fail to make an impact. Keeping things simple matters more than motivation when it comes to influencing people.
  2. Hot Triggers get people going and change people’s behavior. Many of us would argue that information and educating people matters most when designing for behavior change. It doesn’t. Hot Triggers are the most powerful element in changing people’s behavior.
  3. Daily habits are the most powerful of all behaviors. It is important for designers these days to understand the psychology, and science, of long-term behavior change.

Most startups are guiding people through a set of experiences. Every time someone interacts with their system, while tracking their behavior, they get a response (cue, visualization, like, comment, etc.).

This is the feedback loop people go through interaction after interaction.

At least, that is how Facebook does it and why you are logging in every time you feel you are missing something.

What is driving all this?

What Drives Behavior Change

In order for a behavior to occur, three elements must come together at the same time: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger.

When a behavior does not occur, at least one of these 3 psychological elements is missing or lacking. Bottom line, Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Trigger, at the same moment.

Credits: BJ Fogg

You want to aim above the action line, where the desired behavior will take place.

For example, what do we need to fly a spaceship? The order of design will be:

  • Launchpad = Trigger
  • Shell = Ability
  • Fuel = Motivation

It starts with focusing on the desired behavior goals, that can be buying a product, getting people to sign up or share content. By looking through the behavioral lens, we can identify what stops people from taking the desired actions.

For example, if people are not clicking on the Call-to-Action button, the Behavior Model helps designers see what psychological element is lacking.

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Let’s have a closer look at the 1st element we will cover in this Behavior Design for startups series: hot Triggers.

Examples of Triggers

A Trigger can be a deadline or a reminder in the form of a text message or even an alarm sounding. In essence a Trigger tells someone to “do it now”.

Without a Trigger, the target behavior will not happen. A trigger can be external, such as an email or internal, a message notification that prompts us to click on it. Other times, the trigger can come from our daily routine: walking through the kitchen may trigger us to grab a drink.

They can be off-site, such as an email newsletter.

or on-site such as a subscribe button on your favourite website.

The concept of Trigger has different names: prompt, call to action, cue, request, etc.

UnBounce uses Triggers effectively to achieve traffic to their blog from their newsletters.

Here’s one example of a off-site Trigger: every week I get an designed email newsletter, notifying me of a new post on the UnBounce blog.

They send out these updates to trigger the following behaviors: read the new blog post. I’ve posted a screenshot from the email below.

Understand how this specific behavior – reading the blog post – is the first step of UnBounce’s larger goal: get me to sign up for a free trial.

Three Types of Triggers

There are three types of triggers, namely: Spark, Signal and Facilitator. Designers should use the Trigger type that goes along with the target user’s context, which consists of their motivation and ability.

Credits: BJ Fogg

Have a closer look at the UnBounce example to see what type of Trigger is being used. As I see it, the message from UnBounce is mostly a Facilitator. I can easily click through on Read the full post and perform the target behavior.

In addition to the read more link, the Trigger message provides two other links that take me to UnBounce.

Triggers Pave the Way to Desired Behavior

An Trigger that activates a small behavior can lead people to perform harder behaviors. For example, if you can Trigger someone to do 10 pushups a day, that person may then buy a subscription for a local gym.

There is an influx of products and services, enabled by technology that are designed with the intent of influencing our behavior.

The behavior chain in the UnBounce example works as follows: the focused Trigger from UnBounce offers me 4 type of links that get me engaged with UnBounce. In any of the four cases, the link takes me either to their blog or get me to sign up for a free trial of their service.

When I would be motivated enough to learn more about the free trial, I would be taken to a special landing page displaying their pricing options and testimonials.

So the behavior chain to get people to sign up for a free trial looks like this:

  1. Get people to sign up (on-site Triggers, such as the Call-to-Action button);
  2. Get people to click on the links provided, which lead to the blog post;
  3. Trust that people will derive value from the blog posts (foot-in-the-door);
  4. Trust that subscriber will respond to trying the service for free (consistency principle, go ask Cialdini).
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Note how these steps move subscribers toward UnBounce’s bigger goal – making UnBounce your top-of-mind solution for creating landing pages. Which in turn can become an obsession

Also check out how the initial Trigger from UnBounce did not say “Go to the blog – click here!”. That wouldn’t be really elegant.

The people who play it smart just asks others to do simple things – do 20 pushups, read more.

Once this is achieved, the simple behavior then opens the door to harder behaviors: buy a gym subscription, sign up for a free trial.

Many designers make the apparent mistake of asking people to perform a complicated behavior or asking for too much.

Simplicity changes behavior. It also requires courage.

The Bottom Line

The key takeaway here for startups is to think clearly about behaviour goals and then map out the behavior chains you need – user flow you want to see happen.

There probably will be more than one.

Then figure out how to get people to do the first behavior in a chain of touchpoints. If people don’t naturally take the next step, then figure out how to move them to the following step. Step by step.

Continue this process, keep iterating, until your chain works. That often means figuring out the simplest solution.

Your Action List

We just touched the surface of Behavior Design, but here is what you already can do to get started:

1. When you start thinking of the behavior your product or service needs to inspire, you need to take a closer look at your web design to see where you are placing your triggers (there can be more then 1).

Load your homepage. Cover one eye and then see which element of your homepage pops out. If nothing strikes you, then your customers are also not amused because they are not clicking either.

To analyze where your customers are clicking, check out Inspectlet.

2. You can start collecting the words people use to describe their problems or even why they came to your site. This helps you to focus your attention in your marketing efforts and get rid of fancy talk. 

Startups need to solve problems that are worth solving. In order to know if you are on the right path, you need feedback.

Learn more about your customers behavior and their motivations..

There you go: new insights, 2 specific tactics and 2 tools to get you started with TODAY.

So I want you to tell me this…

Do you plan on using these techniques?

Leave a comment to hold yourself accountable.

(Share exactly what you plan to do)

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