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Designing great apps: Design Driven #1

Posted on November 6th, 2014


11/5/2014 @WeWork, 69 Charlton Street, NY

The initial meeting of DesignDrivenNYC had four speakers:

Hook 05 Nov 2014

Nir spoke about the #psychology of getting people to use products and how user’s experiences with a product can lead to getting hooked on the product. He talked about four aspects of addictive products

1.Trigger – there are two types of ‘call to action’: external and internal. External triggers tell you what to do (such as ‘click here’). Internal triggers are formed through an association in the user’s mind. For instance, certain negative emotions may trigger us to check email or facebook or youtube. The most addictive sites are those that satisfy some psychology need.

2.Action – In response to the triggering emotion we do an action in anticipation of a reward. This could be scrolling down in Pinterest, pushing the play button on Youtube, etc. Nir cited B.J. Fogg who has broken down behavior = motivation + ability + trigger with ability and trigger broken each down into 6 levers to encourage action.

3.Reward – He talked about the pleasure centers in the brain and in particular about the nucleus accumbens. Brain studies by Olds & Milner used electrodes to simulate this area and found that this area creates an itch so we have desires. Other research shows us that the unknown is fascinating and variable schedule of rewards creates the highest rates of response.  Different types of rewards lead to different types of behavior: rewards of the tribe (sense of community), the hunt (e.g. knowledge), the self (e.g. search for mastery, competency, control); an example is the need to scroll down to search for items that might be of interest.

4.Investment – The user puts something into the product in anticipation of a future benefit. Increase the likelihood for getting a benefit and the user returns more frequently. By putting something in we might increase our chances of responses from friends (Foursquare), make the application better able to advise us (Google) or help establish a good repulations (TaskRabbit). He mentioned that most other products we use depreciate over time, while addictive applications appreciate over time.

Slides are available at

Diana @etsy spoke about her experiences redesigning the Etsy web site to make it more attractive to mobile users. The first step was to emphasize responsive design and create a style guide that improved the visual layout, was flexible for a wide range of products and could be easily understood by developers.

She made many points including 1. Don’t lock in your design early and be ready to iterate based on feedback 2. Develop a naming convention and document everything 3. Train developers and then trust their judgment going forward

Tim @Warby Parker talked about their process of developing new eyewear. He talked about how the steps of Design, UX, development and feedback are not a linear process and feedback is needed for each of these steps and the order of steps may vary. Better to think of it as overlapping processes. He also emphasized the wide range of information sources that can go into these steps: web analytics, survey, strategy analysis, customer contact, retail experience,…

Zach @Foursquare talked about his experience designing a new application. He gave a short history of foursquare and said that recently foursquare realized that it was evolving into two separate, but inner-connected, uses 1. Where are my friends 2. Evaluation of locations.

As a result the company decided to split the foursquare app into two applications. Zach described his experience designing the interface for the new ‘where are my friends’ app.

He lead the audience through the process of coming up with a name: swarm connotes meeting up with people

He then talked about various motifs considered:

  1. Meeting – unique paths
  2. Circles – as in circle of friends
  3. The “bee” unique paths

Feedback indicated that people like unique paths, but bee options are limited: want personality & attitude.

bee 05 Nov 2014

This lead Zach to explore the best way to express the motif through graphic design including iterations on the bee icon to make it more inviting and on the SWARM label to make it easier to read.

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