Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Designing For Change

Title: Designing For Behavior Change
Author: Stephen Wendel
Publisher: O'Reilly Media.

First and foremost - as this is an early release there were numerous formatting issues and some spelling mistakes but this was to be expected, "Early Release - Raw and Unedited" emblazoned on the front of the book does somewhat suggest potential issues. As such, I'll stick solely to the content.

Stephen Wendel guides us adeptly through the inner workings of our lazy minds and shows us how to maximise our chances of effective designs for behaviour change by paving the way to good design with excellent theory, references and his own experiences to draw upon.

In the preface, the author clearly defines the scope of this book and, most importantly, the audience for whom the book has been written and the types of changes that the book can help you to achieve in your designs. If you're planning world domination by brainwashing people through your apps then this book is not for you (indeed bad news for you in general as the author reveals that it is in fact quite difficult to coerce people to do something that they don't want to). If, however, you genuinely want to help people to develop better habits then read on. 

In order to effect change, the person looking to design for change needs to understand how the mind makes decisions and why it makes the decisions that it does make and not others. Once this has been discussed (with some fascinating data / anecdotes from studies), the author then introduces strategies for actually changing behaviour. 

Armed with this knowledge, you are then taught how to take the theory already learned and apply to the people that you want to reach, in a logical progression that begins with figuring out what exactly you want to do, how to do it and then continues on to how to actually implement it, solicit feedback and continually refine your product.

Even if you never hope to develop a product for behaviour change, this book is a fascinating read that illustrates how we as a species tend to think and how people try to use that information (for both good and bad) to influence our decisions. If you are hoping to develop a product for behaviour change then get this book without delay.

I'm quite delighted, apart from the sterling content of the book, at the use of humour too. Little things like the summary of each chapter being referred to as "On a Napkin" make it all a more pleasant read. I was also delighted to see references to Brian Wansink, another excellent author on behaviour (and a funny guy too)

If you're looking to help people with behaviour (not addictions) or are just interested in the topic then get this book, you won't regret it.


A hearty 5/5, this book is a fascinating read. Buy it, read it and then go read the material that he's linked or referenced. 

"Designing For Behaviour Change" can be found on the O'Reilly website. 

Thanks for reading!


I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

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