Tag Archives: bj fogg behaviour design

The Psychology of web design – tips for app UX design from SXSW

We’re dedicated to constantly developing and improving our web apps, so they provide the best experience for citizens and provide the most friction free interaction with government as possible.

One of the key aspects of creating a friction free citizen experience is UX design – making the way users interact as easy and engaging as possible.

So it was great to get to listen to Jason Hreha, co-founder of West Coast Behaviour design company Dopamine, who’s a real UX fiend. Here’s what I learnt – which I’m hoping we can embrace more to improve our apps (even more).

The key thing Jason discussed was the *Fogg Behaviour Model* which states that 3 things need to coincide for behaviour to change:

  1. Ability: what can someone do on a website
  2. Motivation: how you can drive people to do the things you want them to
  3. Trigger: when do you get them to do whatever you want them to do


When looking at the *ability factors*, the key question is: *are we asking too much?*:

  • Time e.g. proxy for how hard / streamlined the expected experience is.
  • Money e.g. payment plans (freemium)
  • Physical effort e.g. text. Is there too much copy? Twitter is a great example – by limiting copy.
  • Mental effort e.g. are we asking for too much information? Is it difficult to understand?

And following this, the core question is *what is absolutely necessary*, and the key response is to get rid of everything else. The Power of Simplification rules.


When it comes motivation there’s two areas to consider 1) motivation driven by the product, and 2) motivation driven in screen.

  • Product motivation comes down to the basic questions *does the product provide users with value?* and *Does the product solve a pain point?* If you’re not solving a true problem, then app may be treated like a game and once the user’s finished playing there’s no driver to return. Jason pointed out that in his mind Turntable.fm has this characteristic.
  • In-screen motivation comes down to providing constant positive feedback to users, so that they’re constantly rewarded for their behaviour encouraging further interaction and engagement. A simple example of this kind of positive feedback are progress charts in surveys (like in Quick Consult).


The basic reality is that people are probably going to forget your product / app, so you need to provide triggers to remind them to interact with it. A basic example of this is sending emails. Jason pointed out that there are 2 main triggers, onsite triggers and offsite triggers.

  • Onsite triggers are mainly based around calls to action (CTA). Calls to actions may have varied levels of ability thresholds – an example of a high threshold trigger is asking people to *make a post*; an example of a low threshold trigger is asking someone to heart / like something.
  • Offsite triggers are mainly based around *push messaging* like emails and text messages. So for example, you may provide users with the ability to sign up for weekly email alerts. Jason pointed out that ensuring you provide ways to opt out and control this messaging, then you won’t disengage a user.

So there you go. Some simple tips on how to improve UX design for your app courtesy of the nice people at SXSW.