Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation Paperback – 26 Jul 2013
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From the Back Cover
"Better read this book before your neighbor goes and pulls a fast one on you. If this appeal to fear isn't enough, then maybe greed will do the trick: any website will make lots of money by following the guidelines in this book, even if you don't go all the way to become truly evil."
-- Jakob Nielsen, author of Designing Web Usability and Mobile Usability
"Illuminating, amusing, and a genuine page-turner....this book will give you insight into ways you have been tricked and, even better, give you the tools to persuade others either for evil or, if you really must, for good."
-- Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, Principal, Nielsen Norman Group, mad scientist, and former Apple employee #66
How to make customers feel good about doing what you want
Approaching persuasive design from the dark side, this book melds psychology, marketing, and design concepts to show why we're susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. Packed with examples from every nook and cranny of the web, it provides easily digestible and applicable patterns for putting these design techniques to work. Organized by the seven deadly sins, it includes:
Pride - use social proof to position your product in line with your visitors' values
Sloth - build a path of least resistance that leads users where you want them to go
Gluttony - escalate customers' commitment and use loss aversion to keep them there
Anger - understand the power of metaphysical arguments and anonymity
Envy - create a culture of status around your product and feed aspirational desires
Lust - turn desire into commitment by using emotion to defeat rational behavior
Greed - keep customers engaged by reinforcing the behaviors you desire
Now you too can leverage human fallibility to create powerful persuasive interfaces that people will love to use -- but will you use your new knowledge for good or evil? Learn more on the companion website, evilbydesign.info.
"The seven sins are all around us, easy to spot. But the designs that apply the underlying behavioral forces that underpin the sins are harder to discern. That's why we need this book."
--From the foreword by Don Norman, author of Design of Everyday Things
About the Author
Chris Nodder is an independent consultant with 20 years' experience working with large organizations and lean startups to make user experience central to their business strategy. He was previously a director at the prestigious Nielsen Norman Group, and a senior user researcher at Microsoft. He has an MS in Human-Computer Interaction and a BS in Psychology.
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The seven deadly sins are, by their very nature, a religious construct. If you don't believe in any gods the concept of sin may seem irrelevant. But look past your views on religion, whatever they may be. The seven deadly sins give a highlight into human nature. When we're growing up our parents tell us not to eat all the chocolate in one sitting but never tell us not to have another portion of broccoli or Brussels sprouts. The reason is pretty clear - most children would eat as much chocolate as they could but few would eat an entire plateful of broccoli. So it is with these seven deadly sins - they pretty much describe the way most of us are, albeit our own weaknesses will represent some combination of these sins.
Many of us would be reluctant to share our address books with web sites, and maybe that's for a good reason. Making it a required stage of the registration process would almost certainly result in lots of people mysteriously having very few friends. Making it an optional stage of registration and making the user's profile show, very publicly, that they have "completed 85% of their registration" (while letting them know that the remaining 15% is to "suggest other people who might enjoy the web site") results in the sense of pride (ding - one of the deadly sins) kicking in because people dislike leaving things unfinished and dislike others seeing they started but never finished.
Sloth gets us in all sorts of ways. How many people actually read the terms and conditions before signing up to a new membership? How many read the terms of business before buying online? Who knows what nasty clauses are in there? The answer is very few - most people just can't be bothered. Make the desired progression through the site clear and obvious, hide the terms and conditions behind a dull grey link, and most people won't make the effort to know what they are getting into.
What about envy? Look at the sites out there that award gold stars to people. Call the gold stars whatever takes your fancy - it might be a fancy title, it might be a bit of recognition, but it's nothing of any practical value. Now you can play on both pride and envy - pride at being top of the leaderboard, envy that someone else has more virtual stars than you have, and people spend their lives providing free content to commercial providers in the hope of getting that coveted top spot.
The book covers each of the seven deadly sins in turn, looking at ways they can be used against us. As it unravels human nature it provides an ever-deeper insight into just how easy it can be to manipulate people into doing what you want them to do, by appealing to the darker sides of their nature. Yet all the time the options are there, people are free to choose to read the endless terms and conditions, they are free to compare every single product with every single other product, they are free to log off and do something else, but the choices are presented in such a way that the "right" choice is the easiest one to make.
Heck, you can even look at Amazon and wonder just why that "top 500 reviewer" tag exists. What other reason would people spend reviewing so many products? I can even look back at this review I just wrote, ask what I stand to gain from it, and wonder whether my own sense of pride is at work.
The book is too aggressively targeted at the evil parts, some examples from the book: page 99 "How to instill doubt", page 133 "How to scare people". As a developer I do not want to instill doubt, I want to provider confidence and well being.
However if you are a marketer that wants to create short term profits at the cost of ruining your brand, then this is book for you. It is full of the devious tricks and ideas that will get you that short term sale.
What the book does well is listing a comprehensive number of design tactics based on psychology and (often) irrational behaviour. It might be a great book as introduction to the field of persuasive design, and it's written in plain, straight forward English.
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