Forget business goals - It's time to look at behavior

Forget business goals - It's time to look at behavior

The traditional way of growing a business is defining your business goals - adoption of new service, retention, new sales, you name it. I say 'traditional' because there is also another way to go about this, maybe a better way (a more human way I would say) to define and understand these business goals. We can connect them to behavioral goals, and to give them a boost we can look at psychology to power these actions in your design.


The way to reframe our perspective on business goals, we can think about this question: What do people have to do in order for your business to be successful?


In this article, I'm talking about human behaviours online. Simply put, behavioral goals look at what behaviors or actions would be useful for your customers or users to take (for your business). Behavioral goals "represent changes in the way people act—changes that can be observed or measured. This includes changes in cognition or emotion, too.” (Stephen P. Anderson “Seductive Interaction Design") . Moreover, the business goals can be connected, better said translated into behaviors.


How to translate a business goal into a behavioral goal


For example, our business goal could be "increase the number of paying subscribers" for an online business. The behavioral goals might be "encourage people to click on the register button" and "help them understand the pricing plans".


You can have multiple or different behavioral goals (note: they have to be inline with your target audience actual goals). Think about what do you want your users to do in order for your business to be successful. Define a behavior as an action that you can facilitate through your design.


Another example:



Business Goal Behavioral Goal

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Benefits of defining behavioral and business goals before the project starts


  • Connects design work to business outcomes in an instant. Sometimes there is a disconnect between what the business wants and what design wants. By providing clear actionable goals, both parts have a shared understanding of the goal.
  • Fosters focus. For designers, knowing what behaviors to design for at a given page, helps create focus and generates more ideas. If the desired behavior is "click a button" (I know, simple example), the designers will know how to create the best and adequate experience for that action.
  • Brings creative ideas on the table. P. Anderson comments: "By agreeing to specific behavioral goals up front, before any design work begins, you have objective measures against which you can evaluate the proposed designs. This frees you up to explore ideas, even crazy ones, so long as they prove effective. CEO hates pink buttons? If you can produce the results that show more people clicked on pink buttons compared to other colors, then the decision becomes objective—do we go with the option that more people click on, or not? By defining behaviors to design and test for, the conversation shifts away from whims and personal preferences to measurable results.”


Case study - Psychology power

*Adding a little psychology and behavioural magic to your design


This example is taken from “Seductive Interaction Design".



“Let’s start with a business goal. For this example, let’s pretend, hypothetically, that we work for YouTube and the goal is to improve the quality of the video content uploaded to our site. You can imagine some stakeholders sitting behind close doors who’ve decided that as a brand, they’d like people to associate YouTube more with new HD offerings and films, as opposed to the “talking head” web cam videos they’ve become associated with. Again, hypothetical situation.



The first thing we’d need to do is translate this business goal into a behavioral goal. “Improve the quality of the video content uploaded to our site” is not a behavior you can design for—it’s an outcome of some changes in behavior. Something like “encourage people to be more selective about what they upload” is a good behavioral goal. This is something designers can work with.



Next question: “How do we encourage this behavior?” This is where the fun starts, by exploring what we know about human behavior—how we make choices, what gets our attention, what we recall later. [...] Let’s pull a few of these ideas at random and see how they might help in our scenario.



Scarcity—We infer value in something that has limited availability or is promoted as being scarce.

What if we limited uploads to just a few per week—everyone is allowed to upload three videos, but no more. Might this give people pause to think twice about what they’re uploading?



Limited Access—We naturally desire things that are perceived as exclusive or belonging to a select few.

What if those users who uploaded HD or highly rated content were given access to more editing features?



Authority—We want to follow the lead and advice of a legitimate authority.

What if we sent out short video tips from noted directors?



Shaping—To teach something new, start with the simplest form of the behavior; reinforce increasingly accurate approximations of the behavior.

What if we started of with very small, generic challenges that would apply to most people uploading videos. Try using dramatic lighting... This week, try a dramatic angle... Use this filter... Practice the “rule of thirds.” No one is expected to become a film director, but easy techniques like this would raise the bar on quality of videos uploaded.



You get the idea.”



Short version conclusion


Try it out for yourself. A short summary:

1) Outline your business goals

2) Translate them into behavioral goals

3) Think of ways to encourage that specific behavior - inserting psychological principles (eg. mental heuristics) into the design.

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