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Designing for a future we want

14 Nov 2019 · 3 min read

As we approach Christmas, it’s easy to forget another occasion worth celebrating – World Usability Day (WUD). Nicola Dunlop, Senior UX Consultant, explains why it’s so important.

World Usability Day 2019

WUD is a date to promote User Centered Design - the process where user needs are made the key driver to inform decisions at each phase of the design process. 

This year's theme is 'Designing for the future we want' and is closely linked to the United Nations' Sustainability Development Goals. The goals are a roadmap to achieving a better and more sustainable future for the planet. They address ‘big problems’ such as poverty, inequality, climate, and environmental degradation. 

Who’s responsible?

Many see these sustainability goals as a government responsibility, but all designers can play their part in influencing change. By applying psychological principles to design solutions we are able to ‘nudge’ the user into making certain decisions that ultimately change the way they behave. This is highlighted in the book Nudge, Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness written by Thaler and Sunstein, where numerous examples show that no consumer decision is ever presented as neutral. This is known as persuasive design. 

It’s possible to utilise persuasive design to encourage sustainable behaviour at various stages in the user journey. As McKinsey & Co’s customer loop illustrates, there are multiple touch points across a user journey that leave the user open to influence. 

image of the customer advocacy loop

Food for thought

At AmazeRealise, we’re very focused on sustainability, continually working with our clients to identify opportunities in the user journey that influence change. We also like to learn from others.

 One advocate we recently identified is Olio. Olio uses digital as a platform to motivate change around food waste. It connects users within local communities by allowing them to post and respond to adverts for free food that would otherwise go to waste. 

Disruptors like Netflix and Spotify also show the power of digital in supporting sustainable behaviour by disrupting the ‘ownership’ of physical products and pushing user behaviour towards digital experiences. 

Zipcar has revolutionised the automotive industry, challenging the need to ‘own’ a vehicle. They use technology that offers easy access to car rental but with a subscription model that makes car sharing simple and driving (depending on circumstances) more economical. 

Skyscanner.com are also promoting the most ‘eco route’. This is shown as a green leaf symbol as an option, subtly pushing users to think about their purchase in a different way before committing. 

screenshot of the skyscanner eco results

Making sustainable a reality

We’re also feeding this sustainable thinking into our current business models. 

Working with The Co-op on their social platforms, we helped them utilise digital as a marketing platform to promote the importance of food waste and recycling. With such high retention, social platforms are prime influencers on motivating the thoughts and behaviours of their users. Ever seen something on social media and thought about trying it … or shared it with a friend? Point made.

In addition, we continuously work with Lexus and LNER to build sustainable thinking into their customer journeys. Lexus and LNER both currently provide content pages on the topic. Lexus now also displays the C02 emissions on their car models upfront. This subtle approach builds eco thinking into the purchase process, 'nudging’ the user to think differently about their consumption.

Lexus Car results page showing Co2 emissions

A new selling point

The topic of sustainability is trending with growing demand from users to know about this information upfront. Traditionally, consumers place value in two factors; ‘quality’ and ‘price’. Is there now a third factor emerging – ‘environmental impact’?

Companies who are seen to support this notion are likely to build a strong brand loyalty and therefore advocacy with existing and future customers. This may not stop someone snagging a great deal, but making this factor more visible during the customer journey is likely to influence behaviour change to some degree. 

On World Usability Day, it’s something we should all be thinking about.

Agencies like ours have the ability to empower users to make informed decisions on how they can contribute to a more sustainable future.

— Nicola Dunlop

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