Live from UXBoston: How to Uncover Hidden Assumptions

How to uncover hidden assumptions, by Maria Matveeva

UXPAIn an emergency, when a woman called for help, the Emergency dispatcher wanted to know if she was in the city or the country, and she couldn’t because she didn’t know what it counted as. She gave the address/general location, but she couldn’t say if it was “city” or “country.”

We can’t take our assumptions for granted. What’s important to me, is not necessarily important to others.

Think of the example of salt and pepper being identified by the number of holes in the top. Every family works on it differently. Continue Reading


Live from UXPABoston: Designing for Behavior Change

Designing for Behavior Change: New Models, New Directions, Panel

UXPAQ: What are we talking about when we talk about behavior change?

A’s: Helping people to form habits and behavior that is beneficial to the person. We want to create something sustainable, and also do something ethical and improves peoples lives. There’s literature and theory about social psychology in UX about helping to change people’s behavior  in a way that’s productive and beneficial to them.

When we talk about behavior change models, we mean the ways that people have identified to change behavior. Most of the models are agnostic – not specific to any one behavior. If they weren’t agnostic, then you’d never be able to learn them all. Instead, these are ways to use historical research (from Skinner/Pavlov up to Nir Eyal and BJ Fogg) for best practices that help people do something, even if they don’t act in the exact right way the model suggests.

These models are as much explanations of why people behave the way they behave as ways to help them change.

Q: How does this work in real life, with actual techniques?

A: One term used often is “practice.” That how behaviors become engrained over time. The question becomes: can we allow success to be the thing that sustains, and turns external motivation into intrinsic?

You start with information: are the people educated in what about this is good for them? Then motivation: do they want to do it? Then skill: do they know how to do it?

You also look at how to shift from extrinsic motivation (money, gifts, prizes), in intrinsic – what are their intrinsic motivators? Are they social, or success-based, or something else?

You also need to figure out the connection between what’s done in the app and what happens outside the app. If the goal is to get the person to fill their prescriptions, how do we get from doing something in the app to actually filling their prescription?

In other words, you start with a model, but when the user starts to be “non compliant” with the model, switch to techniques to understand how to help them.

Q: As a designer, how do you identify what might go wrong?

A: I go through a sort of rolodex of key terms, like motivation and other common issues. There’s no one best model. It pushes you beyond where you typically go.

We also need to know to be realistic about the adoption rate, given what we know.

Bonus: Resources!

An overview of influential behavior change theories

  • Learning Theories, BF Skinner; Ivan Pavlov
  • Health Belief Model, Irwin Rosenstock
  • Social Cognitive Theory, Albert Bandura
  • Transtheoretical Model, James Prochaska & Carlo DiClemente
  • Information/Motivation/Behavioral Skills Model, Jeffrey Fisher & William Fisher
  • Fogg Method, B.J. Fogg
  • Hooked Model, Nir Eyal



Live from UXPABoston: Form & Function for Menus

Form & Function for Menus: How to Get IA and Navigation Right

UXPAGeneral rules for a good IA:

  • Needs to be intuitive, understandable at-a-glance
  • The further someone has to go, the less likely they are to continue
  • Terms need to be descriptive
  • Terms need to be mutually exclusive, so that people can make decisions

Good IA provides an information scent, to help users hunt out the right information like a bloodhound. Continue Reading


Live from UXPABoston: The Researcher’s Quandry

The Researcher’s Quandry, Panel

UXPAHow do you handle a situation when it feels like the interviewee is confrontational, or you’re having an emotional reaction?

In this panel MadPow’s Susan Mercer questioned 2 designers and a medical student about dealing with people who have strongly different opinions. We know this is an issue we should prepare for, but how do we prepare, and how do we deal differently? Continue Reading


Three Sides of the Same Coin

Content strategy is the work we do when we set up content to appear to the right people, at the right time, in the right places. The purpose of doing a content strategy though, is to provide a good user experience. With that goal always in mind, content strategy is a subset of UX design.

When clients ask me how content strategy differs from UX design, I explain to them that a UX practitioner is anyone who is creating, crafting, or “designing” a user experience. Some people call themselves UX designers, UI designers, or UX strategists, to try and specify how general or specific their skill set is. Personally, I avoid having the term “designer” in my title, because of the dual meaning of the word, and the common connotation of design as sketching/wireframing/visual design. Since my work focuses on creating a strategy for the content, and figuring out the way to get content to the right places, it’s appropriate to call me a content strategist as opposed to a UX strategist, content strategy designer, or content UX strategist.  Continue Reading


Designer Biases

When new technology comes into being, there are often two radical beliefs that spring up:

  1. That new technology will corrupt our youth and irreversibly damage our society
  2. That new technology will create a utopian society of equality and opportunity for all

The two beliefs are reflected as far back in time as Socrate’s day, when he feared that writing would erode memory (it has, in part) and ruin society (it hasn’t, I personally believe). It is mirrored in reactions to the industrial revolution, the telegraph and then the telephone, and most recently, the Internet.

While we hear a lot about the first belief, brought mostly out of fear, today I’m more interested in the second: Utopianism via technology. Continue Reading


Live from HxR: Prove It: The Role of Evidence and Insights in Health Intervention Design

Healthcare has high stakes and fast decisions. We need to understand what we’re changing before we try to change it. Just because we’re online doesn’t mean we can’t harm them. We impact them emotionally, financially, and physically.

What is health intervention design?

Developing messages, materials, and activities that influence behavior and/or environmental factors to promote improved health or reduced risk.

Intervention design is like architecture:

  • It looks simple (4 walls and a roof), but then you start laying down a foundation, pipes, electricity, and you realize how complex it can be.
  • Your education and ability, as well as budget, influences what you can build
  • Information comes from evidence. Continue Reading