Action Design Blog

Posts Categorized "Theory"

Draft Toolkit On How To Design For Behavior Change

The first draft of the Designing for Behavior Change toolkit is now available. Please check it out and drop me a line with comments and suggestions! Here it is:  Toolkit v0.1 (If you’d like updated copies of the Toolkit as it progresses, just add yourself to the listserv here.) The toolkit provides a brief summary […] Read more

Why is A/B Testing so hard to stomach?

In my daily life and conversations with other companies, I hear comments like this pretty often:  “A/B tests are a waste of time. They take a long time to run, they make us display a bad version of the product to some  users, and they usually fail to show anything.” I’ve thought about this a […] Read more

How Barriers Sabotage Our Behavior

NOTE – Today’s post is from Erik Johnson, who blogs about behavior, psychology and other topics at He also  helps organize the Action Design DC Meetup! Why do we so often fail to do things that we actually want to do? Why do so many products fail to create action by their users, even if it’s […] Read more

Does hard work build commitment to use a product?

I’ve struggled with getting organized for years.  Recently, I’ve tried out lots of “Getting Things Done” (GTD) task management apps to help me change my daily routines. In the reviews, I saw things like “it’s hard to use, but once you’ve mastered it, it’s amazing!” (e.g., ThinkingRock, Omnifocus). That reminded me of a common counter-argument […] Read more

NoVa UX Presentation on Iterative Process of Action Design

Hey Folks, Last night I spoke at Jim Lane‘s  NoVa UX Meetup, along with Alex Kalinovsky from CreamTec. I spoke about the method we’re developing at HelloWallet for designing products that help people change their behavior —  Action Design.  I tried something new, focusing on the iterative process and reusable  skills you can use at various parts […] Read more

How to Replace an Existing Habit

How to Replace an Existing Habit This afternoon, I’ve been digging into the interesting new conference calling app, Speek (you can check them out here; they are currently in Beta). Justin told me about them, and I had the opportunity to talk with their CTO and co-founder, Danny, last week. Here’s the problem:   They are […] Read more

A 10,000 foot view of how we choose our next action

In trying to understand how products change behavior, I’ve had a persistent problem – there are too many options.  Yep.  There are literally hundreds of different mechanisms that affect behavior and can be used to change it (see Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases, Goldstein’s Yes!, or the Marketing Sciences Institute’s recent book).   So, I’m writing up […] Read more

Using behavior change for more than “the dark arts” (coercion & manipulative persuasion)

Personally, I’m interested in voluntary, non-coercive action: helping people do things they want to do, but have struggled with. But, I can’t kid myself — Action Design directly builds upon research into coercion and persuasion, which I half-jokingly call “the Dark Arts”.  For example, many of the cognitive mechanisms that I use have been studied […] Read more

Action Design In Brief

Hey folks, I’m working on a 1-page description of the basics of the Action Design process – where the concept comes from, how each of the five-steps work, and especially how the design process works.  I’ve included what I have so far, on this page.  I’d love to hear what you all think. Read more