How to design more ethically engaging experiences (UCD 2016)

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How to design more ethically engaging experiences

Neil Turner | @neilturnerux


Senior UX designer at AstraZeneca

I think its always useful to know a little bit about your presenterCurrently working in Cambridge for AstraZenecaThe global pharmaceutical company2

UX Jedi!

In my spare time Im a UX Jedi (with terrible Photoshop skills)3

Keen cyclist

Im also a keen cyclist4

Identical twin

And identical twinIm the one of the right (in the red)5


HonestI have no idea which one Im in this photo!6

Phil Spencer look-a-like

And a Phil Spencer look-a-likeSadly with theres not much demand for my services7

Child of the 80s

Im also a child of the 80sDo we have any other children of the 80s? (Hands up)If so I want you to see how much of the following you remember8


Video is 1 min long9

Me in the 1980s

This is me in the 1980sNo digital technology in sightOnly analogue technologyCheck out the Star Wars curtains!


My kids in the 2010s

This is my kidsIts far to say that already digital technology plays a pretty big part of their livesIn fact if you dare to prize the iPad away its a good chance that youll experience something like this11


Video is 20 secs longAnyone else get iPaddys in their household?12

We really love our digital devices!

And its not just kids that love digital devicesWe all do13

How many times a day do people look at their mobile phone?A: 0-25B: 26-50C: 51-75D: 76-100

How many times a day do you think people look at their mobile phoneAccording to a 2015 study at the Uni of Lincoln which logged smartphone use using an app



According to a 2015 study at the Uni of Lincoln which logged smartphone use using an appThats a lot of engagement


Sex or mobile?

Its fair to say that were pretty attached to our digital friendsIn fact according to a survey in the USA third of Americans (need to check) would rather give up sex than their mobileAnd this digital love affair is starting to change not just our digital interactions, but our interactions with one another16

Who needs talking?

This is now a pretty common sight17

The smart phone walk18

The dinner conversation via mobile19

Hanging out at the park20

Can you spot the one guy in this photo not using a mobile?21

What about this one?22


Video is 30 secs longI fear that this is what weve becomeSmart phone zombies23

The future?

What about this one?24

The Internet is a miraculous tool, but all too often, it affects us like a drug. Many of its popular apps, news websites, and social networks have been carefully designed to addict and distract, so they can harvest human attention like the natural resource it is.Jonathon Harris & Greg Hochmuth (Network Effect)

Perhaps this isnt a great surpriseDigital devices are perhaps the drug of the 21st centuryThis is a quote from a fantastic website called Network Effect, set-up by two artists called Jonathan Harris + Greg Hochmuth


Drugs or technology?

In fact if you look at a brain of someone using addictive drugs and someone using technology, such as smartphones and the Internet, the two are quite similar in a lot of waysBrain imaging has shown that technology like Smartphones and tablets affect the brain frontal cortex, in a very similar way to addictive drugs canTechnology raises dopamine levels and gives us that feel-good factorIm sure you too have experience the pain of not being able to check your emailsThe thrill of suddenly having a mobile phone signal again26



And this is starting to have a wider impact on societyApparently children today (at least in the Western world) are as unfit as children have ever beenOf course this isnt just down to technology, but its a significant factor27

Who needs sleep anyway?

45% of teenagers admit to checking their mobile after having gone to bedThe pull of engagement is so great28

Gotta catch them all

Engaging apps like Pokemon Go have lead to numerous accidents29

31% motorists admit to having used their mobile behind the wheel

A whopping 31% of motorists admit to having used their mobile behind the wheel30

And taken to the extreme we have cases of people literally dying through exhaustion because they cant drag themselves away from technology31

Whos to blame?

So whos to blame for this?Are we to blame for being weak?Are parents to blame for exposing their children to too much technology?Are companies like Nintendo, Facebook, Apple and Google to blame for rewarding addictive behaviour?32

Well probably all of the aboveBut I also cant help feeling that we as designers are also to blameAfterall33

The goal of user experience design is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.UX Curve: A method for evaluating long-term user experience, Interacting with computers

Good UX is all about utility, usability, and building pleasurable products and services34


The UX mountain

In fact if we look at the classic UX stack we as designers look to design things that areUseful to usersUsable so that users can do what they need to doDesirable that are nice to useAnd as the UX bar gets raised, and as user expectations rise, its the top element desirable that is increasingly becoming important35

There is an obsession with designing engaging digital products and services, and Im not sure if this is a healthy obsessionI want to show you how to design more ethically engaging experiencesExperiences that hopefully wont turn your users into digital zombies36


In this age of recycling Ive been able to recycle Eds stone to deliver 8 lessons in designing more ethical engagement37

KPIs make the world go around

First lesson is related to KPIsKPIs are pretty important when it comes to UX as theyre typically the way that performance of a product or service is measuredMore conversions, more visits per week, more clicks, more likes38

Googles HEART framework

And engagement KPIs are often pretty high on the listFor example Googles HEART frame work (Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, Task Success) features engagement very heavilyBut theres a danger that focusing on engagement KPIs encourages unhealthy engagementIs more visits per user, per week, actually helping in the bigger picture, is it healthy for that user?39

Outcomes over engagement

Which is why I believe you should aim for outcomes, over engagementBecause you outcomes are really what youre looking for, not engagementOutcomes like orders, subscriptions, registrations and recommendations40

Outcomes over engagement

1. Outcomes over engagementNumber of visitsNumber of photos uploadedNumber of sharesNumber of ordersNumber of account upgradesNumber of new registrations


My second lesson concerns the abuse of persuasive designIts fair to say that most of us are pretty easily persuaded42

Must resist clicking

From click bait43

Gamification BABY

To gamification techniques, such as points, competition and leaderboardsPersuasive design has become a powerful tool in the UX designers arsenal, but all too often it has been abused44

2. Dont abuse persuasion techniques

So lesson number 2 is not to abuse persuasion techniquesAs designers we should be only encouraging healthy behaviour, not unhealthy behaviour


Lesson 3 relates to notificationsI suspect like me you receive a lot of notifications through out the daySome are useful, others perhaps less soTake LinkedIn for example46

Do I really need to know that a connection has just had a work anniversaryMaybe47

But seriously LinkedIn, do I need to know about birthdaysCome one youre not Facebook48

And for god sake, I really dont need to know that someone has changed their bloody profile pictureThanks LinkedIn, thanks for wasting 30 seconds of my life, 30 secs that Ill never get back again to let me know that someone has updated their bloody profile photoAnd its not just LinkedIn, this sort of needless notification is far too prevelant49

3. Notify only when necessaryQ. Does the user really need to know this?Yes send them a notificationNo dont f**cking bother them

Which leads me to lesson 3Only notify users when absolutely necessarySimply ask yourself a question as a designer does the user really need to know this?50

Of course users can just change the notifications they receive, but this is often easier said than doneTake Facebook for exampleI want to change the notifications I receiveSo I click on the user icon at the top right


Im presented with the option to view my profile52

I view my profileNothing related to settings here53

What about the More option?Privacy shortcuts?54

Er, more settings55

Bingo, finally found notification settings56

And look it only took me a mere 6 steps!57

4. Provide controlLet users easily control notificationsProvide a clear path to changing settings e.g. link from emailsBe clear about what users are being notified about

Lesson number 4 is to avoid what Facebo