User experience design is a tricky beast
There are so many elements to consider. Who are the users? What are they trying to do? How much do they already know? What route do they want to take ...what route do YOU want them to take? All this and more is before you even start thinking about the aesthetics of the design.
Designing a great user experience requires knowledge and research about human phycology, emotion and behavioural science. Over the last few years designing a website has changed dramatically. The market is saturated and users are spoiled for choice, this means that user expectation is higher, so users will more likely abandon a site if they're not instantly hooked in.
I'm going to stop using the word "user" now, because it is not personal enough. Let's call these "users" people, because that's what they are. They're your family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. All these people are going about their lives, looking to find solutions to their day to day challenges and tasks.
People form habits, think about the person you sit next to on a bus, they might do that bus journey every day, or twice a day. Think about whether that person might notice a billboard they pass each day, will they notice when it changes to another advertisement? Maybe, but not likely. Visual cues are so saturated that people tend to filter out a lot in order to continue. If you looked at every piece of advertising or messaging on your way somewhere, you might never get there.
This is why if we're designing a solution to help somebody, we need to design an experience which interrupts at just the right moment to hook them pleasantly in.
How to interrupt, not disrupt
In our office we have 4 bins. 3 recycling bins (paper, plastic and cans) and one general rubbish bin. The environment lovers in the office are repeatedly frustrated to find recyclable items discarded in the general rubbish bin, despite regular reminders verbally and by email to use the recycling bins. I imagine this is a common occurrence, everybody is human and if you haven't formed the habit yet it is easy to forget to walk two paces in the other direction to put your can in a different bin.
To tackle this I decided to think about the user journey. I start by thinking "the recycling bins can't be any more obvious, why aren't they used every time?" an obvious place to start would be to think of repositioning the bins, but quickly I realise that the recycling bins are already easier to access than the general waste bin, which means people are putting more effort into using the wrong bin. So how can we interrupt this habit?
I study the general waste bin. It has a button on the top to press to open. So there's a moment here where we can interrupt the journey. My solution becomes clear. Stop expecting people to use other bins and remember what to put where, and start telling them what NOT to put in the general bin at the point of irresponsibility. There is now a sign on the general waste bin saying "NO PAPER. NO PLASTIC. NO CANS." It's simple and easy to follow. The language used leaves no opportunity for discussion, it's not advising what to do, it is instructing what is not allowed. An order which is easy to follow.
My colleagues at Nudge are lovely, genuine people. They don't want to cause the world any harm, they just forget sometimes. I'm confident this interruption at the ideal moment will increase our recycling and reduce our office waste. I'll keep you up to date...
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