Make it easy to do the right thing.
POSTED IN Random 7.03.2012
Here, Rob Girling of Artefact talks about what he frames as the new intent of design in the 21st Century: The encouragement of individuals to act in their own best interests. Studies have shown that many people don’t necessarily act in their own rational self interest even when given all the information necessary AND the opportunity. (Sorry Ayn Rand) They make their decisions emotionally. Girling believes that it is the responsibility of those who design the world to encourage people to act in their own best interests despite our emotional predispositions. This is a very compelling idea, saying to the consumer, “I’m giving you the tools to easily do the right thing. The rest is up to you.” I have employed similar concepts in my own designs. It should be noted, however, that human beings can tend towards being highly self destructive. Their emotional response to an energy saving appliance may be to simply waste more energy in other parts of the house. A calorie counting app may be completely ignored because a person wants to be fat so they can avoid sexual attention. Can a design really overcome some of our emotional self destructive tendencies?
Is this approach to design helpful and welcome? Yes. I look for every opportunity I can find in my designs to incorporate sustainable practices and to encourage the end user to do the same. I want to encourage people to make good decisions for themselves and others. However, I think that an effort to affect peoples’ emotional decision making is most effectively approached at a family and community level. The way many american cities and communities are designed is causing a great deal of isolation and subsequent apathy. I would like to see some similar talks given by city planners.