Behaviour changing design – insights from IDEO Change+

– By Rebecca Crooke

International design consultancy IDEO has created a series of videos called ‘Change (+)’ which provide an important and fascinating discussion on the emerging design opportunities for designers to design change.

Design structures that appeal to rapid technological changes are often in opposition to efforts of creating a healthy and sustainable future. The videos are full of captivating case studies and examples outlining how design that seeks to change people and processes opens up a whole new field of design that specifically focuses on designing for behaviour change.

Here we provide a quick overview of the key themes discussed in the 6 video series

1. Taking the Change Out of Behaviour Change – Holly Kretschmar

There is a growing interest in designing for behaviour change within the private sector. There is market value in design primarily focusing on behaviour change. It is no longer regarded to be “the realm of the public sector.”

Kretschmar justifies this theory by highlighting Volkswagens “The Fun Theory.” Where an interactive piano surface was installed on a public staircase resulting in more people taking the stairs. This design venture has nothing to do with cars but begins to include and promote Volkswagens involvement with the emerging field of behaviour change. There is a significant difference between inviting people to change a behaviour and bluntly telling them to correct it. Current crises where people feel pressure can extend into being a desire to change. “Desire is an innovation opportunity.” If designers design for these needs there is significant market value to be gained because people do want to change they just need new design to aid this or to teach them how.

These ideas are summed up into 3 principles:

1.Speak joy, not fear – focus on positive emotions

2.Use judo – piggybacking on existing behaviours

3.Create the crowd – enabling peer pressure

2. Change daily habits at scale –Taytana Mamut

Discusses how large scale change happens through a framework of tools, rules and norms. Once users are presented with the tools and Governments or higher powers create rules, the users will develop an understanding of the social norms through use or observing and creating judgement of other users.

3. The Illusion of Neutrality –Leslie Witt

“How did something so neutral become so polarized?” This video explores the illusion of how a credit card no matter how much you spend it’s the same payment experience. It’s modern technology being deceiving? This has contributed to significant credit card debt. This fault is due to design. So design could be the key to fix this debt also.  Along with Bank of America, IDEO created the keep the change program which outlines the successful model of “out of sight, out of mind.” It required little effort from the user and allows them to save without even knowing it. Budget websites Mint, and Chase Blueprint are also reviewed.

4. “This Is What Sex Sounds Like” –Jenn Maer

Highlights how a client, the national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy presented IDEO with the challenge to plainly reduce pregnancy between the ages of 18-29. This presented the dilemma of “changing behaviour in the face of one of the most powerful biological urges on the planet” After researching current campaigns, Maer found that the tone was wrong. It was appealing to a medical or scientific aspect whereas to come up with a successful design solution they needed to look from an emotional aspect. This was done through humour or in a more subconscious way appealing to emotions.  The tone is everything, the different way of phrasing the information is just as important as the information itself. “designing for behaviour change is about connecting intimately with real people, so don’t be afraid to create solutions that sound as if they come from real people too.”

5. Technology Isn’t the Solution –Arna Ionescu

This video outlines the social challenge of the “crumbling” US healthcare system. There are many healthcare technology tools. For example “Dr. Google” although it has a huge bank of information it lacks the motivation for behaviour change that comes from real people, people that you trust. The reality is there are far to many people and conditions for a basic 1:1 caring solution. Ionesca reviews new tools that channel the nessercary personal aspect. These include websites Keas that creates individual care plans and Patients Like Me allows people with similar conditions to connect. This means that technology isn’t the solution but it is the enabler. It allowed the personal aspect to be scaled up dramatically, connecting more people than ever before.

6. Measuring Change – Aaron Sklar

Sklar explores why its important to measure change all the way through the design process. This is so the problem can be clearly identified, outlined and improved. Measuring strategies include stories, feedback, indicators and outcomes. It is discussed how these strategies were involved in evaluating a childhood obesity campaign with a US health organisation.