Behavioral heuristics

In his most recent article Dan Lockton explores a way to capture how and why users behave the way they do and capture this into “something like rules.” He calls it behavioral heuristics.

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Our field is moving slowly but steadily into the world of behavioral psychology. We’ve started to realize that it’s not just about designing good-looking products with usable interfaces, but about a deeper level of involvement. Dan Lockton has been thinking about that area for quite some time, with his Design with Intent toolkit as the highlight. In his most recent article he explores a new approach: behavioral heuristics, where “asking users questions about how and why they behaved in certain ways with technology [leads] to answers which [are] resolvable into something like rules.”

In the article Lockton explores his own thoughts on behavioral heuristics. He shows examples from a recent workshop he did at Interaction 12 and how this worked out. As an example he takes apart an example from Amazon, where social proof is a way of persuading people. What were the assumptions made and how do these translate into heuristics?

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Behavioral heuristics - Image from

There are lots of models of human behaviour, and as the design of systems becomes increasingly focused on people, modelling behaviour has become more important for designers.

The aim, really, is ultimately to provide a way of helping designers choose the most appropriate methods for influencing user behaviour in particular contexts, for particular people.

Read the entire article ‘If…’ here


Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

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