Interesting new persuasive design course

Need a persuasive design course? Take a look at: its the work of Anders Toxboe


Persuasive Design Course


Persuasive Design Course

Anders has also made video training available, if that is more to your liking:

Persuasive design course

Persuasive design course

Persuasive design course

Persuasive design course

Anders also made an article for Smashing Magazine:

Aristotle’s thoughts on effective communication are over 2,000 years old, but they’re still regarded as the basis of rhetoric today. His theories on public speaking are easily applied to digital user experiences.

Some of his basic heuristics (rules of thumb) are his three persuasive appeals: how we must consider at least three different aspects of an argument to persuade our audience.

Aristotle’s three appeals were:

Logos: appealing to logic
Appealing to logos is typically done by using facts and statistics, quotations from experts, and informed opinions.

Pathos: appealing to emotion
Appealing to pathos is typically done by using emotional outbursts, stories about emotional events, or using picturesque and vivid language.

Ethos: appealing to ethics, morals and character
Appealing to ethos is typically done by showing practical knowledge, showing moral character (areté), or showing good intentions and goodwill.

When introducing your product, consider covering all three persuasive appeals. Are you using convincing facts, telling exciting stories about how you have helped others, and are you showing off your track record? Let’s examine how the three persuasive appeals can help you improve your user experience.


Behavior Change Strategy

Behavior Change Strategy is not as easy behavior support. The Artefact Group has created a free set of cards for inspiration, when designing for behavior change. They are nice and clean and visually appealing.


[…] The set is divided into five thematic sections, each featuring strategies and examples that will help you understand why the strategies are effective, and prompt you to think through how they might be used.

  1. Make it personal: The persuasive power of “me” and “my” (cards 1– 6)
  2. Tip the scales: How perceptions of losses and gains influence our choices (cards 7– 13)
  3. Craft the journey: Why the entire experience matters (cards 14 – 17)
  4. Set up the options: Setting the stage for the desired decision (cards 18 – 21)
  5. Keep it simple: Avoiding undesirable outcomes (cards 22 – 23)

These cards should be considered a starting point, to help you think through strategies and brainstorm new ideas you may not have previously considered. Keep in mind that any given strategy, on its own, is unlikely to be a silver bullet. And while some of these strategies may work in the short term, they don’t necessarily guarantee long-term success. At the end of the day, the only way to make sure that what you’re designing has the outcome you desire is to test it with real people. […]

Get your deck of behavior change strategy cards here:





Time to get ready for persuasive conference 2014

It is time to prepare papers for persuasive 2014. The Persuasive Conference Series is the primary outlet of research based knowledge of persuasive design. Persuasive 2014 will be hosted in Padova Italy:


Important Dates

ALL SUBMISSIONS: November 18, 2013

CAMERA READY PAPERS: February 28, 2014

2014 Special Theme
Persuasive, motivating, empowering videogames

Adding game elements is one of the most challenging, acclaimed and updated strategy to turn any information and communication technology application into a system that persuades, motivates, and empowers users to take action.

This year the conference builds bridges between persuasion and videogames, serious games, and game-based learning communities; a special session of the program will be devoted to these issues and prominent representatives will be invited. Designing game and gamification will be explored as processes creating persuasive products and generating new empowering features for interactive technologies.

If you are a researcher or practitioner who works at designing, developing or evaluating persuasive games or you are studying persuasion through play, this is the perfect time to participate in the conference.

Submissions need to be in springer LNCS format (pdf). For more information see the conference site:

Coercive design is not persuasive design

Coercive design is here to stay. While a persuasive design seeks to influence behavior and attitude change in an open manner, where users have a clear and free choice, coercive design seeks to manipulate the users into taking action or changing attitudes. I am not entirely sure I should be linking to this, but for educational purposes…

At they have compiled a list of 57 “persuasive design” patterns showcasing how companies manipulate us using coercive design. They have employed a taxonomy based on the seven deadly sins. The clear misunderstanding here is the use of the word persuasive. When people are tricked using coercive design strategies they are not persuaded. Regardless of this conceptual misunderstanding, it is interesting to see the collection of coercive interaction design patterns.

Skærmbillede 2013-08-11 kl. 11.15.52

A few excerpts:

  • 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.

An example:

I hope that the person who created the default “Sent from my iPhone” e-mail signature text for iOS devices got well rewarded for their work. It is the perfect embodiment of effortlessly viral aspirational content. Taken at face value it is little more than an advertisement for a product – something that benefits the company more than the customer. Yet users seem strangely reluctant to change it. This inertia stems at least in part from what that small phrase says about them as an individual. Even more than half a decade after the device’s release the phrase is still prevalent at the bottom of people’s e-mails, and it can’t just be because none of them can find out where to change the setting. It remains there because it’s boastful in a socially acceptable way.

One, common, coercive design strategy is to give something way for “free”. Naturally, business don’t make profit from giving things away, rather companies manipulate you into accepting a cost somewhere else in your relationship with them.

“Make something free, and rationality disappears. You can recoup the money elsewhere.


  • Free as an incentive to buy: Around 40% of e-commerce transactions have free shipping. To differentiate further, some companies such as Nordstrom and Zappos also offer free return shipping. Free shipping is obviously a strong persuasive force. During Q3 2010 the average order value for transactions involving free shipping was 41% higher than transactions without free shipping. Higher volume can quickly make up for lower margins.
  • Free with the cost moved elsewhere: Amazon’s Prime service offers free 2-day shipping for $79/year. So it’s really not free at all. In direct terms serious shoppers may well save money by subscribing to this service, but that discounts the value that Amazon accrues from the additional purchases those individuals make as a result of the “free” shipping. The siren call of “free” probably also encourages many people to sign up for the service despite not actually accruing $80 of shipping costs in one year.
  • Free with the cost disguised: As a user, if you aren’t paying to access the service, you’re most likely the product, not the customer. The implicit contract with companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like is that users provide their eyeballs and behavioral data in return for use of the system. In turn, the companies sell that information to advertisers, who are their true customers.

And they do actually offer a free sample chapter of the book showcasing several types of coercive design: Is this coercive design? Or is it just a free sample? :-)

Behavior change: The Quantified Self movement

Behavior change is becoming big business and thus there is an opportunity to utilize the persuasive design paradigm. The NY Times has an interesting post about a relatively new trend, where users measure their activities in regards to movement.

“You’ve heard of the Quantified Self movement? It’s the rise of watches, clips and bracelets that monitor your physical activity, sleep and other biological functions. The idea is that continual numerical awareness of your lifestyle works to motivate you: to park farther away, to get off the subway one stop sooner, to take more stairs. You study the graphs, you crunch the numbers, you live a longer, healthier life. (And you try to avoid being a crashing bore at parties.)

The most popular such gizmo — or at least the most heavily marketed — has been Jawbone’s stylish, rubberized, shower-proof Up band ($130). For about a week on a battery charge, it quietly measures your movement, whether you are awake or asleep, and displays the results on your iPhone or Android phone….”


The article goes on to focuse on behavior change via the Jawbone UP Band: (while heavily criticising it).



was designed to fit seamlessly in people’s lives. Real life. It’s a thoughtful combination of engineering and design, custom-made for how we live.UP is both flexible and strong. Sometimes UP needs to slide smoothly under sleeves or bend to accommodate an active lifestyle. Other times it has to be strong enough to stand up to a snowball fight without a problem (or more likely, a few thousand showers). Day and night, UP is right there with you.”

A competing device is the Nike Fuelband: 


Through a sports-tested accelerometer, Nike+ FuelBand tracks your daily activity including running, walking, basketball, dancing and dozens of everyday activities. It tracks each step taken and calorie burned. It also tells the time of day.


Another similar device is the Fitbit Flex: 

fitbit flex








This slim, stylish device is with you all the time. During the day, it tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night, it tracks your sleep quality and wakes you silently in the morning. Just check out the lights to see how you stack up against your personal goal. It’s the motivation you need to get out and be more active.


A comparative analysis of these three applications would be interesting. They look similar, but the persuasive design strategies are probably slightly different.

Behavior change: Upcoming book

At the center of persuasive design lies behavior change, that is the explicit aim of changing behaviors, attitudes or both. This fall a new book addressing designing for behavior change is coming from O’Reilly Media:

I’m happy to announce that O’Reilly Media will be publishing a new book I’m writingbehavior-change-book called Designing for Behavior Change. The book gives step-by-step guidance on how to design, build, and test products that help people change their daily behavior and routines. The goal is to help people take actions that they want to take, but have struggled with in the past: from exercising more (FitBit, Fuelband), to spending less on utilities (Opower, Nest), to taking control of their finances (HelloWallet).

It’s a practical how-to book, aimed at designers, product folks, data scientists, entrepreneurs and others who are thinking about and building these products. It includes:

Insight into how the mind makes decisions, and what that means for changing behavior.
Step-by-step instructions on how to select a behavioral change strategy, and convert that strategy into a real product.
Techniques and software tools for evaluating the concrete impact of a product on user behavior, and for discovering the factors that block users from changing their behavior.
Lots of practical, concrete examples.


If you sign up for a newsletter, you are able to get draft chapters as they are released. I did :-)