Beaconfire Survey: Seductive Interactions

Periodically, we do a survey of Beaconfire staff to get impressions on a variety of issues. All opinions expressed here are solely those of their authors.

Last week, Beaconfire learned about seductive interactions.  No, stop thinking that! It’s not what you think!

I’m talking about using psychology to design better online interactions. In usability, we aim to make websites easier to use. In contrast, you can instead motivate (seduce) users to want to use your site, whether it is usable or not. That’s where the psychology comes in. If your site is funny, or playful, or surprising, visitors will be more motivated to use it.

The phrase “seductive interaction” comes from a talk by Stephen P. Anderson, who has put together some great examples and a large set of psychological techniques that can apply to the web. You can listen to a podcast of his talk from SXSW 2010, or read his slides, which are packed full of examples.

It’s a great reminder, especially to all of us who work with nonprofits, not to take yourself too seriously, or to stay too much within the mold. It’s all about standing out.

So, we asked staff:

What is your favorite example of a “seductive” interaction on the web?

Amy, Functional Consultant: Blogger does a great job with this.   “Create a Blog.  It’s easy and it only takes a minute.”  – which, even better than being seductive, is HONEST!  There it only takes a minute and it IS easy!

Marco, Software Engineer: This may be too tech focused for the blog.  But during the meeting I thought of the ZumoDrive service I use for online backup.  When you first sign up, they have this Learning “Dojo” that you go through to get familiar with the different features in your account.  And it’s presented like a game where you earn belts and there’s a reward.  When you’re done you get an extra  1GB of storage.  Check out the screenshot.

Zumo Drive Dojo

Marissa, Functional Consultant: The winner has to be Google Pacman.

Scott, Functional Consultant: I like Jeremy Keith’s narrative-style form.  One of the reasons is that It’s pretty simple to do.

Jo, Marketing Consultant: Every time you sign into Flickr, they teach you how to say “hello” in a random language. It makes me smile every time.

How about you? What’s your favorite example?

(update: 6/25/2010)

Mark, Functional Consultant: Found a couple of more recently that I thought would be worth sharing…

Call someone you love

Skype advertisement to use their advanced web to phone calling feature

When you install Skype, they allow you to try their advanced web to phone feature. In doing so they prompt you to, “call someone you love.” Kind of delightful and unexpected.

Additionally, when you check out a preview of Flickr’s recent feature additions from the photo page you get a surprise. After stepping through four previous steps and clicking on the fifth, all of a sudden a panda bear appears in the bottom right of your screen and you are prompted to, “now have some fun with it.”

Flicker preview surprise

Final step page in new Flickr features preview

I thought this was great… totally unexpected (surprising) and delightful at the same time. Great example of bringing in several of the “sexy interaction” attributes that Stephen Anderson has been talking about.

Are you excited about the epic stuff you just read?

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