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Behavior Design: a method for ethical influence


Behavior design is the practice of using design to shape or influence human behavior. It argues that human behavior and/or decisions are influenced by interaction with artifacts.


Taking this into account, we decided to apply the ideas of behavior design to our service design project about Fundación Portolà’s e-commerce, Detalling, in the hope to shape customers’ experience and, consequently, their beliefs and thoughts about the collective of people with intellectual disabilities and/or mental disorders.


As we learned from Massimo Ingegno, behavior design is about building illusion and perception. To achieve the desired behavior, “biases can be leveraged, exploited, and need to be overcome.” Our goal with Portolà is to overcome common biases against people with intellectual disabilities and/or mental disorders.


Before thinking about how to shape the experience of customers we developed our user persona: Paula. She is a regular client of non-profit organizations. She is a person driven by social impact and solidarity and always opts for practicality. Her goal is to create an inclusive society; a society that values and celebrates differences. Her biggest pain is to see minority groups being discriminated against.


Studying Paula’s experience, her customer journey map could look something like this.


After drawing our customer journey map, we named each critical behavior in the process of navigation, selection, and purchase, and identified their activator (what prompts the behavior), the consequence, and the barrier for each one of the behaviors. This exercise helps us define which specific features of the process should be modified according to the behaviors they influence.


To improve the overall experience of Detalling’s customers, we used the Make It Behavior Design Toolkit, designed by Massimo Ingegno and Samuel Salzer. His collection of 15 strategies helped us think about the different ways in which the customer experience could be influenced to achieve our goals.


These are the strategies we choose to implement in our project.


Make it easy

First thing's first, things should be as simple as possible. By simplifying the process, customers could perceive less cognitive and physical effort in the purchase process. We can make it easier by:

  • Improving web architecture and menu bar.

  • Simplifying the registration process by adding registration with social networks.



Make it attractive

First impressions count. As such, we should frame and display our e-commerce web page to draw people’s attention from the beginning of the navigation process. We can make it attractive by:

  • Creating a new and more appealing web interface, logo, and color palette.

  • Expand to new market segments with new products, product categories.

  • Find a way to reduce the shipping cost.


Make it memorable

They say, “moments come and go, but memories last forever.” We want customers to remember Detalling and Portolà. We can boost the retention of information by:

  • Highlighting that the item purchased is a personalized gift.

  • Sharing an intriguing narrative about Fundación Portolà.




Make it valued

Things are always worth more when there is a sentimental value behind them. We can increase the perceived value of the purchase by:

  • Creating the option for the customer to assemble their customized package for the gift receiver.





Make it playful

Choosing a gift could be an anxious process. One way to help consumers is with play. Pay engages the user with imagination, curiosity, empathy, experimentation, and learning. We can generate more engagement by:

  • Creating a gift selection quiz.






Make it meaningful


For last, our main goal is to create experiences that strengthen the relationship with current and future customers of Portolà. We can do this by sharing their unique story: the workers with intellectual disabilities and/or mental disorders. We can add meaning to the purchase process by:

  • Emphasizing the stories behind the handmade items, through visual and textual storytelling.

  • Increase the perceived relationship between Portolà and Detalling in their websites.

  • Make more use of Portolà’s social networks to expose their story.






Persuasive Reflections

Humans are creatures of habit. As we learn in class, the first law of human behavior says that “behavior tends to follow the status quo unless it is acted upon by a decrease in friction or increase in fuel.” That is, if we want people to act upon something, we must create a sense of urgency in them. Actions do not emerge from a vacuum but in a context that ignites them. This can be done through persuasion and social influence.


Persuasion is a resource that is indifferent to the intentions of the orator, or, in this case, the designer. Persuasion can reaffirm popular beliefs or disrupt them; it can make people ignore specific issues or feel empathy for them.


As designers, we can transform the world by transforming the artifacts people interact with within their daily life. As such, if we want people to care, we must direct their attention to where we want them to look 🦋


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