Persuasive Technology is in turns fascinating and sinister.
This book is a must for any designer working in the technology field. B.J. Fogg is clearly a upright fellow, yet the techniques he offers to persuade desired behavior are so clearly articulated that it is easy to see how they will be used for unethical ends.
Stanford professor Fogg lists many positive uses for these techniques, such as educating teens about domestic violence, or teaching diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels, or getting RSI sufferers to stretch– yet it’s no effort to image the dark side. A later chapter on ethics does just that, showing his student’s experiments in designing unethical tools, such a Pokémon game that coaxes personal information out of children and persuades them to bug their parents for toys.
That said, ignorance is not an option. We need to understand these methods, as designers and as users. I had never seen Amazon’ Gold Box as more than a very silly bit of foolishness.. now I understand it for the highly crafted and effective sales tool it is.
Even if persuasion turns you off, you need this book for chapter 7, on web credibility. Check out the website for a taste. Design and information architecture are critical pieces in the struggle to differentiate a site from the vast number of personal sites and imitators sites… an increasingly difficult task for users.
When you finish this book, the hackles on your neck will rise, you’ll feel lightly slimey– but you will be a better designer and a smarter consumer.