Archive for July, 2009

More fun with messages: Here be dragons!

July 6th, 2009

Earlier we looked at some examples of terribly ineffective Windows Mobile error messages; and now for something completely different.

Firefox uses a somewhat unconventional approach to ‘warning’ users when they’re about to do something potentially dangerous – take a look at these playful and humorous warning messages, displayed when you try to access the about:config settings:

(Ofcourse, there is no warranty to void on your freely downloaded software)

(And let’s hope there are no dragons! Image courtesy of @wandster)

I must admit that I prefer the ‘Dragons’ version (it seems to grab your attention more), but the nature of both messages do make you, as the user, really think about whether you have the skills and knowledge to proceed. A concise explanation about what can happen if you don’t know what you’re doing is also provided in the text below the heading, and the ‘I’ll be careful, I promise!’ button further drives the overall message home (that should you proceed, you’ll be doing something potentially risky).

While the colloquial language might put off some strict usability folks, and the Plain English campaign would most certainly not approve (the headings are not direct, unambiguous, or dare I say boring enough), I think they’re actually quite appropriate for the audience and the situation. If the goal is to make users think twice before messing with the inner workings of the system, then mission accomplished! And these warnings are probably much more effective than a classic, straightforward, boring old warning message – by injecting a little personality into the messages, users are much more likely to read and absorb them, and therefore make an informed decision.

Could these also be simple examples of persuasive design? They kind of represent ‘soft’ constraints – the user is not actually forbidden from proceeding, but the language and tone of voice has deliberately been designed to ensure that users evaluate their level of knowledge and skill before doing so.

What do you think?

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Sebastian Deterding on Persuasive Web Design

July 3rd, 2009

Wow, check out this brilliant presentation by Sebastian Deterding on persuasive design (ie, how we can design to encourage users to adopt specific behaviours of the designer’s or their own intent).  This work is absolutely incredible, and has left me inspired and so excited to be involved in design.

    In the presentation, Sebastian touches on (among many other cool and interesting things):

    • how persuasive design relates to usability, by considering the motivation of a user to do something versus the perceived effort to do it
    • conversion rates, or web 1.0 economics, versus more modern and ‘web 2.0’ economic goals
    • the multi-disciplinary nature of persuasive design
    • persuasive design strategies (including constraints; defaults; visualising and measuring behaviours; using personal, graspable, emotional, and comparable design concepts)

    Persuasive Web Design – How to Separate Users from Their Bad Behaviours View more presentations from Sebastian Deterding.

    Also, note the section on using defaults (starting around slide 77).  Sebastian discusses how people tend to take the path of least resistance and therefore don’t change default values, and he references a study on US driver’s license applications. The study revealed an 80% increase in organ donors after the default value for “Would you like to donate your organs after death?” was changed from “No” to “Yes” – this is related to my earlier post about the importance of setting sensible defaults.

    This presentation also reminded me of several of Ferg Bisset’s posts on awareness and motivational design.

    Exciting stuff!

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