SpoolCast: Leveraging Seductive Interaction Design with Stephen Anderson

Sean Carmichael

January 20th, 2011

Duration: 38m | 19 MB
Recorded: December, 2010
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Seductive interactions leverage the latest advancements in social science, psychology, and behavioral economics.

In November’s UIE Virtual Seminar, Stephen Anderson showed us specific examples of sites who’ve designed serendipity, arousal, rewards, and other seductive elements into their applications, especially during the post-sign up period, when it’s so easy to lose people.

He also demonstrated how to engage your users through a process of playful discovery, which is vital whether you make consumer applications or design for the corporate environment.

In the conversation, we tackle some of the questions we didn’t get to address in the seminar, and touch upon some other things that Stephen’s been thinking about: Gamification and Story.

Here’s an excerpt from the podcast.

“…I think that’s what you’re seeing a lot of is people taking their business app and “now with badges” or “now with points.” So, every time you comment on our website, you get points and so many points earn you a badge. Those are not the things that make a game fun.

If you talk to game designers, those things definitely are feedback on how you’re doing, but what makes the game fun is also the challenge, the autonomy, the mastery. These are the things that go inside of a game. Those points and badges are really signifiers or reinforcers of those challenges or things that let you know that you accomplished something.

In my workshop, the question I like to ask is “What makes something a game?” and “What makes something fun?” Those are kind of two paired questions I ask. When I say what makes something a game, we start by brainstorming as many different kinds of games as we can.
So, that includes everything from hopscotch to chess to tic tac toe to World of Warcraft to Tetris.

I take a very broad view of games. In fact, we even include things like investing and education. We say, OK, what are the common patterns or the common themes that make these games.
If you look at it, in all these cases there’s a challenge or a goal. There are often artificial constraints, so limited resources or limited time, things like that. There’s also feedback loops along the way to let you know how you’re doing. Those can come in the form of reports or points and badges or whatever it is that’s really that feedback on the goal.

I think with gamification, you’re seeing a lot of people giving feedback or points for no real goal, no real thing that’s important. So, anyway, we talk about what makes something a game. Then we shift and ask what makes something fun? I have a series of 10 questions I ask, why do we enjoy watching the show “Lost? Why do we enjoy scratching off lotto tickets?

All these questions like that, they’re really trying to get at the feelings that we feel and what makes something fun. Then I turn around and ask, OK, how can we create these same feelings in our applications?

When people think of fun they think of positive stuff and a lot of times what makes something fun is things like anxiety, having a little bit of anxiety about something, suspense. All these things that aren’t necessarily positive or we don’t think of right away as positive things, but they actually make something fun…”

Listen to the podcast to hear Stephen answer these questions as well:

  • How much “fun” can academic websites be without losing the professional look?
  • Does negative reinforcement have any role?
  • What books do you recommend on social psychology, social design and neuroscience cognitive seduction?
  • Do you see parallels between seductive design and seducing women, and did the ideas of the “pickup” influence you in your thinking?
  • Do you have any seductive sign up form examples?

As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to share them in our comments section.

Note: Thanks to a lousy connection, the quality of the recording varies throughout this podcast. If you find points difficult to hear or understand, we do have a full transcript available.

3 Responses to “SpoolCast: Leveraging Seductive Interaction Design with Stephen Anderson”

  1. Marian Bailey Says:

    This is a suggestion, not for this presentation in particular, but for all of them. I listened to this at work, or rather, I tried to. Unfortunately, probably because of a very quick mind, Mr. Carmichael rushed his words, and that in combination with dropping the volume on the latter parts of words and phrases made the presentation difficult to understand. I was reluctant to raise the volume because I didn’t want to bother those next door … so I lost the train of thought again and again. (I found it especially frustrating not to be able to hear the titles and authors of the books he recommends.)

    I think the moderator might have been able to intervene, and that is what I am suggesting … that the moderator assess the delivery of the presenter, and if necessary encourage him or her to slow down and even out the volume.

    This was an interesting and valuable presentation, though, which is why I stuck with it for a long time … about 30 minutes.

    Thank you,


  2. Sean Carmichael Says:

    We have updated the post with information about the recording quality.

  3. axplock med twitter och mental notes 2011-01-26 | axbom Says:

    […] » Mental Notes: Bring a little psychology into web design Jag vurmar för psykologi och beteendevetenskap i designprocessern. Jag har beställt mina kort, gör det du också! Och lyssna på Mental Notes-skaparen Stephen Anderson när han intervjuas i SpoolCast. […]

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