How to design products using the power of framing effects

There is no truth. There is only perception.
-Gustave Flaubert

In April 2007, the Washington Post conducted a social experiment. The publication asked Joshua Bell, one of the nation’s most renowned violinists, to pose as a street performer in the subway. Donning a baseball cap and jeans, Bell took out his $3 million Stradivarius and started to play. Would people stop and listen?

Instead of the massive crowds that many expected to gather, only seven people of the 1,097 passersby stopped during the entire 45 minute performance. …

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Illustration by Justin Secor

Four steps to designing products with impact

Changing behavior is hard. We see it everyday — New Year’s resolutions fall through, gym memberships remain unused, and well-intentioned plans to eat less, or save more, never come to fruition.

There are many products and services to help nudge us towards our goals—whether that’s making healthier eating choices, developing better financial habits, or maintaining a more active lifestyle. Yet creating products that successfully accomplish these objectives can be immensely difficult. Designers are realizing that traditional design methods are not always enough to effectively tackle these complex behavioral challenges.

At Opower, our team takes a uniquely behavioral approach to product…

When it comes to numbers, we’re not as rational as we think we are.

Traditional economic theory has long assumed that humans are logical, unemotional, and make decisions that are in our own self-interest. In recent years, however, the growing field of behavioral economics has revealed that this assumption is flawed — humans are in fact complex beings who often rely on emotion and reflex to make decisions, even if those decisions sometimes defy rationality.

At Opower, our design team thinks deeply about how to combine useful and delightful user experiences with behavioral science to…

Aaron Otani

Designer @Google. Previously @Opower, design fellow @KPCBFellows.

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