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Über dieses Buch

“Bottlenecks’ is a tight and eminently actionable read for business leaders in startups and enterprises alike. Evans gives us a rich sense of key psychological processes and even richer examples of them in action.” - Nir Eyal, Author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

“Clients frequently ask our UX researchers and designers for deeper truths about why certain designs work and others fail. Bottlenecks offers practical explanations and evidence based on the idea that human cognition did not begin with the digital age.” - John Dirks, UX Director and Partner, Blink UX

“Bottlenecks brings together two very important aspects of user experience design: understanding users and translating this into business impact. A must-read for anyone who wants to learn both.” - Josh Lamar, Sr. UX Lead, Microsoft Outlook

Learn the psychological constrictions of attention, perception, memory, disposition, motivation, and social influence that will determine whether customers will be receptive to your digital innovations.

Bottlenecks: Aligning UX Design with User Psychology fills a need for entrepreneurs, designers, and marketing professionals in the application of foundational psychology to user-experience design. The first generation of books on the topic focused on web pages and cognitive psychology. This book covers apps, social media, in-car infotainment, and multiplayer video games, and it explores the crucial roles played by behaviorism, development, personality, and social psychology. Author David Evans is an experimental psychology Ph.D. and senior manager of consumer research at Microsoft who recounts high-stakes case studies in which behavioral theory aligned digital designs with the bottlenecks in human nature to the benefit of users and businesses alike.

Innovators in design and students of psychology will learn:

The psychological processes determining users’ perception of, engagement with, and recommendation of digital innovations Examples of interfaces before and after simple psychological alignments that vastly enhanced their effectiveness Strategies for marketing and product development in an age of social media and behavioral targeting Hypotheses for research that both academics and enterprises can perform to better meet users’ needs

Who This Book Is For

Designers and entrepreneurs will use this book to give their innovations an edge on what are increasingly competitive platforms such as apps, bots, in-car apps, augmented reality content). Usability researchers and market researchers will leverage it to enhance their consulting and reporting. Students and lecturers in psychology departments will want it to help land employment in the private sector.

What Readers Will Learn

The psychological processes determining users’ perception of, engagement with, and recommendation of digital innovations

Examples of interfaces before and after simple psychological alignments that vastly enhanced their effectiveness

Strategies for marketing and product development in an age of social media and behavioral targeting

Hypotheses for research that both academics and enterprises can perform to better meet users’ needs



The Bottlenecks of Attention


Chapter 1. Foveal Acuity

You worked hard to digitize your ideas and send them our way in the form of light and sound. But they must be encoded into neural impulses for your app to work and your business model to succeed. From a business perspective, a meme that never enters a brain is the tree that falls in the proverbial empty forest—it doesn’t exist.
David C. Evans

Chapter 2. Task Orientation

To place your meme precisely where we will be directing our fovea, and thus our attention, the first idea that likely occurs to you is to "learn our goals" and you would not be wrong. "Goals serve a directive function," psychologists Locke and Latham wrote in 2002, summarizing 35 years of research on the topic. "[T]hey direct attention and effort toward goal-relevant activities and away from goal-irrelevant activities. But we want you to take a step back even from that. The first thing you must do is learn whether or not we even have a goal. If we do, then any meme that interrupts us will be ignored as a frustrating distraction. If we do not, we will be receptive to unsolicited and unexpected memes, although we will resist any effortful concentration required to engage with you.
David C. Evans

Chapter 3. Attentional Focus

Given that our foveal acuity is as narrow as a laser, the first monetizable event in the attention economy is when we point it toward your meme to the exclusion of all others. You must understand this as an economic transaction: in the face of endless informational demands, we allocate the scarce resource of foveal acuity and attention in the way we hope will be the most rewarding. The instant we flex our orbital muscles and look, we become customers to digital advertisers, publishers, and developers like you. And as we begin to consume your memes, you can begin to monetize our attention.
David C. Evans

The Bottlenecks of Perception


Chapter 4. Gestalt Perception

Congratulations, your meme has penetrated a brain. It survived the attentional bottleneck. Now it needs to be interpreted as you intended; otherwise, we will not be able to decide its value to us. This is the perceptual bottleneck. We must interpret your carefully-arranged pixels to be that precise thing with that precise function that you intended, be it a download button, a play button, or even a dinosaur. If we do not, our attention will move on to something else.
David C. Evans

Chapter 5. Depth Perception

The last chapter examined how we your users correctly perceive the meaning of graphic elements, and how that's crucial for the success of your apps, web sites, or entire operating systems.
David C. Evans

Chapter 6. Motion Perception

For over 100 years we've used the word "movies" to refer to your rapid slideshows of still-frame pictures in which nothing actually moves, so it is no secret that the entire entertainment industrial complex is founded on an illusion—the illusion of motion.
David C. Evans

The Bottlenecks of Memory


Chapter 7. Working Memory

We just introduced memory as our ability to preserve your memes past their vanishing point. We are fully equipped to retain some memes for the rest of our lives. But to win this honor, your meme must survive the memory bottleneck, which is just as unforgiving as the prior two.
David C. Evans

Chapter 8. Signal Detection

We aren't simply passive observers when it comes to deciding which of your digital memes to remember for later and which to let slide from working memory. We can't be. Just as it is with our choice of where we direct our gaze, we actively decide, based on our goals of the moment, whether each piece of incoming information is a meaningful "signal" to be attended to and encoded, or a "noisy" distraction to be ignored.
David C. Evans

Chapter 9. Long-Term Memory

What is the most powerful reason why we refuse to watch a movie? The answer is not the genre, the plot, the effects, nor whether it features Tom Cruise. The overwhelming reason why we refuse to watch a movie is that we've seen it already. A study of 21,000 viewings of 150 movies among 500 Penn State students revealed that 65% of movies first seen in a theater, and 87% of movies first seen as a rental, are never seen again (Rob & Waldfogel, 2006).
David C. Evans

Chapter 10. Encoding and Retrieval

As a maker of memes, you are no doubt buoyed by the idea that your work can be preserved forever in our long-term memories if it can survive the initial bottlenecks of attention, perception, and memory. As well you should be! Some representation of your app, portal, or service—once we encode it—may be stored for a lifetime.
David C. Evans

The Bottlenecks of Disposition


Chapter 11. Personality

If your digital creation has made it this far, it has already survived more psychological bottlenecks than many of its competitors. As your users and your audience, we have now seen and interpreted your meme and stored it permanently in memory with sufficient retrieval elements to be able to pull it up at will.
David C. Evans

Chapter 12. Developmental Stages

As you just saw, matching your digital value propositions to our personality traits goes a long way toward motivating us, your audience and customers, to engage with it. We need to feel that your meme "is for people like us," which is a key survey question in brand research and one that indicates that you're doing well at disposition matching. If your meme doesn't make us feel this way, we move on, looking for those that do.
David C. Evans

Chapter 13. Needs

In the last two chapters, you saw how you'll get nowhere with your business if you offer karaoke to introverts or genealogy to teens. You have to match your digital ads and apps to our personalities and life stages or you won’t survive the bottlenecks of disposition. Sure, you could instead shotgun out your work to the population as a whole, but it is guaranteed that in doing so you'll waste more time and money than competitors that engage in better disposition matching.
David C. Evans

Chapter 14. Fun

Well, that's certainly one way to put it. Expanding, he means that a thrill ride (like a roller coasters or a zip line or even a first-person shooter video game) is an experience where actual threats to our physiology have been minimized, even though we still feel threatened.
David C. Evans

The Bottlenecks of Motivation


Chapter 15. Schedules of Reinforcement

Your meme—your mobile app, social media service, or video game—is now beginning to be quite advantaged over its competitors. You have optimized it to survive the bottlenecks of attention, perception, memory, and disposition, and if you have done so, we have rewarded you by engaging with your invention.
David C. Evans

Chapter 16. Escalating Commitment

The last chapter showed that the timing by which you deliver your digital memes matters as much to your success as the content itself. Sequence amplifies substance, so to speak.
David C. Evans

Chapter 17. Approach Avoidance

The last chapter showed that conversion flows (the sequence of screens that we use to register, download, or pay for your digital invention) are not necessarily more effective if they are shortened. A longer, slower escalation of the gives and gets often works better, even if it takes more clicks.
David C. Evans

Chapter 18. Routes to Persuasion

In the last chapter, you saw that as we get closer to actually downloading your app or joining your site, you should dispel our concerns about granting you our attention as much or more than you demonstrate the benefits of your content. In the moment of truth, stop plugging your work and start plugging its holes. This will win you more active users than if you pretend the holes don't exist.
David C. Evans

The Bottlenecks of Social Influence


Chapter 19. Social Capital

Your meme has now firmly established itself in a human mind. It was noticed, understood, remembered, and recalled. It aligned well enough with our dispositions and life-stages that it actually helped to meet an existential need. We engaged with your innovation not once, but multiple times, even logging many hours with it, and you managed somehow to overcome our inhibitions, or distract us from them, well enough to earn our subscription fees or monetize our attention.
David C. Evans

Chapter 20. Group Polarization

The uninhibited expression of negativity and antisocial sentiment began early on the internet and is getting worse.
David C. Evans

Chapter 21. Social Influence

We are finished considering what digital innovation you've made, how we process it psychologically, and why someone might recommend it to us; now we examine who recommended it to us and how that affects our receptivity. Don’t think for a minute that we adopt every meme that is recommended to us. Even the memes that are privileged enough to be promoted must pass through another social bottleneck: they must be recommended by a person or a group who is actually influential over our behavior.
David C. Evans



Chapter 22. Receptivity Thresholds

The last chapter introduced the idea of receptivity. This implied that we range from low to high in how receptive we are to adopting your digital innovation. Despite what our friends advise us about your meme, we don't always "check it out." We don't always register. Or download. Or use it (or use it often). Or recommend it. Or pay for it. All of these are indicators as to whether we were receptive to your meme—or content to have it blocked by our bottlenecks, like so much other noise on the network.
David C. Evans

Chapter 23. Six Degrees of Recommendation

So let's say you've achieved perfect alignment between the design of your digital innovation and our psychological bottlenecks, and in that way, our receptivity is maximized. Just how many recommendations would it take to reach everyone?
David C. Evans


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