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Designing for Behavior Change by Stephen Wendel

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Chapter 7. Constructing the Environment

My wife has a Fitbit One—a small exercise tracker that hooks onto clothing, displays progress on a screen, and sends over detailed information to a computer or smartphone.

The Fitbit One does many things right to help encourage exercise. It automates two very annoying (and therefore action-inhibiting) parts of the exercise process: it automates the process of tracking how much exercise the person has had, and it automates uploading that information onto a computer or phone. Those are examples of structuring the action—by shifting the burden of work from the user to the product (aka “cheating”).

The device also does a number of things, beyond changing the action itself, to help users take the action of exercising. For example:

  • It reminds people to exercise. For example, it gives random “Chatter” messages on the screen; I still smile as I remember when I first saw the message, “Walk Me.”

  • It provides immediate and meaningful feedback. Shortly after my wife got it, I remember her looking at the screen and seeing she’d walked something like 9,945 steps. She just started running around the room, to break the 10,000-steps threshold.

These tactics are two examples of how a product can construct the user’s decision-making environment to help them take action. That’s the topic of this chapter.

Tactics You Can Use

Thus far, you should have a clear sequence of steps that the user will take in order to complete the target action. You’ve found the Minimum Viable ...

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