This is part 1 of a 4 part series focusing on Behavior Change Design.


This first article is going to act as an introduction to the subject of Behavior Change. I want to get you introduced to some ideas and terms before we start putting things together.

Ok, before we get started, I need to cover a couple of important things to help understand the context of this topic. First, in order to design for Behavior Change we must know what it is, when to use it and why to use it. Second, the examples I’ll use to explain this topic center around Covenant Eyes, a service that helps people stops looking at pornography, which could be awkward for some. You’ve been warned.

In this article I’ll be covering:

Why Behavior Change?

The purpose of Behavior Change is change itself; to stop something that a person no longer wants to do or to start something that a person isn’t currently doing. There’s a lack of willpower at times, but a desire to change. It describes a broad range of activities and approaches which focus on modifying an individual’s behavior. This is most often used for reshaping negative behaviors and habits but can be used to reshape or create positive behaviors as well. Behavior Change in the context of Covenant Eyes for example, is primarily centered around people using our service to avoid pornography for good.

We build software and content that facilitates personal accountability between heroes who want to quit porn for good and the allies who want to help them.

Covenant Eyes Product Vision

People from all around the country come to Covenant Eyes for different reasons. However, the underlying reason for using Covenant Eyes is to keep pornography out of someone’s life for good. While many competitors take the approach of blocking, filters and family controls, we approach this issue by re-training our customers to not even seek out pornography in the first place. For this service to be effect, an understanding on Behavior Change is vital. But you may be reading this and in need of Behavior Change but not like the kind I’m talking about. Let’s be honest, not everyone out there is trying to help people quit porn. Bare with me though, this can still help you out.

Different Types of Behavior Change

Behavior Change comes in all shapes and sizes. After studying Behavior Change for a few year I’ve come to really appreciate that Dr. B.J. Fogg’s approach to understanding behavior change. His Behavior Grid is particular is very useful to see the different types of behavior change. The purpose of this grid is to help people understand the different Behavior Change as it relates to stopping or starting behaviors as well as the span of time for changing a a behavior.

On this grid, you’ll 15 types of change. Each of these different types has a different set of techniques and persuasive design approaches (more on that in later articles. The methods for helping someone to quit pornography (Black Path) is different than persuading people to sign up for your service (Green Span). As I talk about Behavior Change Design in these article, I am exclusively going to be discussing Path Behavior Type, primarily Black Path behavior change.

Dr. B.J. Fogg Behavior Grid

Persuasive Design

The last item I want to introduce in this article is Persuasive Design. Persuasive Design is primarily used to get a person to perform a target behavior. These behaviors are typically small, interactions compared to long-term behavior change. You don’t typically have to convince an app to facilitate behavior change techniques. However, if we want a person to facilitate a behavior change technique, some creative nudging is required. Persuasive design can be used as a general framework for interaction design but it’s extremely important when employing behavior change techniques.

Dr Fogg Behavior Model

As we continue through this series, I’ll show you how you can combine Behavior Change Type, Persuasive Design and Behavior Change Techniques (next article) in a way that will have a profound impact on how you design services.

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