designing human transformation through persuasion?

user

Spent a moment today exploring my bookmarks, when I stumbled upon this article from from FrogDesign, published last October. The article is called Change Agency and Transformologies
Understanding the power of design to facilitate positive change in the end-user. That title sums it up nicely. Really, isn’t marketing, advertising simply visual communication, a way of transmitting a message through visual clues? Marketers want to sell things and branders want to create a relationship, but in essence, it’s about communicating an ideas.

The “change agency” perspective of design adapts the idea that messages should be aspirational, products should have a positive effect, scare tactics pushed aside. From the article :

Personal transformation occurs through an alteration of thought and behavior. But facilitating change that endures beyond the moment of direct user-product interaction requires some knowledge of human motivation – in order to effect ongoing change in a user’s actions, we must also shape her values and beliefs. The rational model of persuasion can be a useful framework for understanding how design might assert its influence in the fulfillment of users’ aspirations.

The article defines a simple method of understanding beliefs and motivations:

Beliefs
(What I understand as fact. What I know.)
+

Values/Motives
(What I judge as good/bad. What I want. My self interest.)
=
Attitudes
(What I like and dislike.)

Behavior
(What I do. How I do it. What I say. How I say it.)

The article offers advice to designers by following these basic principles:
1. Shift focus, focus on the positive
2. Take baby steps towards the users positive transformation
3. Connect with your audience’s alter-ego by focusing on what they are capable of achieving
4. Don’t objectify!! (THIS IS A GREAT ONE!!)
5. Create community support around transformation
6. Prepare for obstacles and make moving through them OK
7. Send in the experts!

The article acknowledges that these strategies are easily adapted for brands whose goal is to improve health and fitness. Those brands have the intrinsic connection to transformation and can presume a level of personal aspiration. However, these same “principles of change” can be applied and adapted to any other marketing or branding challenge.

Great article! I urge you to read it, bookmark it, and apply it!

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