The learning game at Intelligent.ly yesterday was hosted by Dr. Amy Bucher and focused on design psychology. She was super organized and a great presenter. Two thumbs up. Check out this neat sketchnote for an overview.
A key point I honed in on falls under Autonomy and is the idea of ‘constrained choice’. Basically, you want to set up a universe for your user, but let them make fluid decisions inside that world. Like a Choose Your Adventure book. In those books after choosing every possible ending, I’d read all the way through just to make sure I’d found every twist. Some people, I’m sure, just read straight through from the beginning, plot line be damned. And I guess maybe some people chose one adventure and never read outside their chosen story (really? raise your hand. that’s weird).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about exploring why versus what or how when creating content (see: last post from an intelligent.ly class). Why attract people to our service? Because I believe, for example, that a community empowered to easily access, visualize and share their own information will create more powerful new knowledge more quickly than individuals without that empowerment (duh. but important in health care). So prior to tonight, the stages of developing and rolling out said product were seeming to make sense in a fairly linear fashion… get everyone in the network to achieve step 1, then move on to step 2 etc. like so:
1. Access information – > 2. Engage with your own information –> 3. Give back new information –> 4. Engage with other people’s information
But now I’m wondering if really we need to make sure that anyone can start at and move between these functions easily. More like adventure choosing. Maybe some people just want to access their information and will never move beyond (laterally? diagonally?) from there. Or maybe some people want to contribute, but never actually use the information. Or maybe we’ll get people excited by having them engage with other people’s data and then they’ll share their own. Or some use cases I haven’t thought of yet.
In a constrained choice (Choose Your Own Adventure) environment maybe it’s better to have a super clear answer for “Why?” but then present the user with a bunch of lily pads all anchored in your big pond of Why and just let the user hop around. UI and design are the little lily pads that make sure your user can navigate their own environment.
Does that work as a structure? Maybe. Maybe I just really like frogs. And Word-created Shape graphics (sexy). Anyways, look up Dr. Bucher if you need someone who can pack serious punch of complex, high value ideas into 90 minutes. And go take a class.
Pro Tip: if you’re a Massachusetts resident you can get into the Harvard Museum of Natural History for free on Sunday mornings. They have some super sweet tree frogs. And a bunch of other stuff, apparently, but I just go for the frogs.
creative commons image from matt macgillivray