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Design with Intent:

101 Patterns for Influencing Behaviour Through Design

by Dan Lockton with David Harrison & Neville A. Stanton

Toolkit wiki

This wiki accompanies the Design with Intent card deck which is free to download or can be ordered in printed form. At launch (April 2010) it's pretty much just an online version of the cards, but in time I hope it'll evolve into a deeper and more useful resource, with more examples and merging more of the content from my Design with Intent blog (2005-date) — much of which has been suggested or sent in by readers over the last few years. Editing the wiki is restricted initially but I will open it up in due course.

Blog post introducing the cards

View the patterns online

Download the cards (free)

Order printed cards

iPad app by James Christie (free)

5-minute survey


What is Design with Intent?

All design influences our behaviour, but as designers we don't always consciously consider the power this gives us to help people, (and, sometimes, to manipulate them). There's a huge opportunity for design for behaviour change to address social and environmental issues where people's behaviour is important, but as yet little in the way of a guide for designers and other stakeholders, bringing together knowledge and examples from different disciplines, and drawing parallels which can allow concepts to be usefully transposed. The Design with Intent toolkit (the cards and wiki) aims to make a start, however small, on this task.

I use the term Design with Intent to mean design that's intended to influence or result in certain user behaviour — it's an attempt to describe lots of types of systems (products, services, interfaces, environments) that have been strategically designed with the intent to influence how people use them. This reflective approach can be valuable for designers: being aware that we're designing not just products, not just experiences, but actually designing behaviour at one level or another. Whether we mean to do it or not, it's going to happen, so we might as well get good at it — and understand when it's being done to us.

The Design with Intent toolkit has evolved from being an attempt at a very structured, TRIZ-like method for prescribing particular design features to address specific target behaviours, to something which is effectively a very loose idea generation tool, provoking design ideas by asking questions and giving examples of particular principles in action. This evolution is a direct result of iterative improvement through running workshops with designers, and seeing what works and what doesn't, and what's usable and what isn't.

This is DwI v.1.0, and represents the culmination of 3 years' work for my PhD. The first version to be publicly released was v.0.9, in poster (PDF) / website form, and this has been tested and developed in a number of variants, including card decks, in workshop sessions with designers and design students. The earlier v.0.8 was used for a small number of pilot studies (PDF) with design students. The earliest, very incomplete versions, which I need to get round to numbering retrospectively, were partly revealed on the blog. (There's a full list of publications, arising from the DwI research, with links, here — journal and conference papers etc, and you can follow its development on the blog.)

The core of my research has focused on influencing more sustainable user behaviour, to reduce the environmental impact of technology use, but this is essentially an interaction design problem, and the principles and patterns involved apply in general to human interaction with systems.

The idea of gambits and patterns

Is this a design pattern library? Sort of. The idea of design patterns, drawn from Christopher Alexander's work in architecture and planning, has been adopted throughout the worlds of design and computer science, particularly in programming and human-computer interaction. It is this latter context — particularly the work of Jenifer Tidwell and Christian Crumlish & Erin Malone — which has influenced the form and development of the Design with Intent toolkit, with a large dose of both TRIZ and IDEO's Method Cards.

However, the DwI cards, at least in their current form, are more like provocations — 'Can you do this with your design?' — than the established 'Use this when...'-style of the design pattern structure. It's not that I don't want to be able to give more definitive suggestions of when particular techniques or principles might be applicable, just that (at present) we don't have enough information about what works and what doesn't in different situations to be able to be that specific. One day, it will be easier to do. I have tried to address this to some extent on the pages discussing how to use the cards, modelling the user and target behaviours.

Bryan Lawson has used the term 'gambit' (PDF) to describe the 'repertoire of tricks' that experienced designers (and architects) are able to bring to bear on a problem, drawing from chess terminology. The key is pattern recognition of the problem and quick matching to possible moves to address it, and is is hoped that the DwI cards match this approach: bringing some of that experience on influencing user behaviour, from multiple design-related disciplines, together in the form of possibly applicable gambits, presented in a form which is useful during the early stages of the design process. So, for the moment, I'm using both 'gambit' and 'pattern' to describe each DwI card.

The eight lenses

The eight lenses are a way of grouping the 101 cards according to different kinds of disciplinary 'worldview' or fields of research. The original idea was that an architect might approach influencing behaviour by instinctively proposing ideas from the Architectural lens, an ergonomist by using ideas from Errorproofing, and so on. But in fact this is a very loose taxonomy and a number of the cards would fit happily in other lenses. It is more of a convenience grouping than anything rigorous, so please don't take it too seriously. It's the gambits or patterns themselves which are more important.

Angles | Converging & diverging | Conveyor belts | Feature deletion | Hiding things | Material properties | Mazes | Pave the cowpaths | Positioning | Roadblock | Segmentation & spacing | Simplicity

Are you sure? | Choice editing | Conditional warnings | Defaults | Did you mean? | Interlock | Matched affordances | Opt-outs | Portions | Task lock-in/out

Feedback through form | Kairos | Partial completion | Peer feedback | Progress bar | Real-time feedback | Simulation & feedforward | Summary feedback | Tailoring | Tunnelling & wizards

Challenges & targets | Collections | Leave gaps to fill | Levels | Make it a meme | Playfulness | Rewards | Role-playing | Scores | Storytelling | Unpredictable reinforcement

(A)symmetry | Colour associations | Contrast | Fake affordances | Implied sequences | Metaphors | Mimicry & mirroring | Mood | Nakedness | Perceived affordances | Possibility trees | Prominence | Proximity & grouping | Seductive atmospherics | Similarity | Transparency | Watermarking

Assuaging guilt | Commitment & consistency | Decoys | Desire for order | Do as you’re told | Emotional engagement | Expert choice | Framing | Habits | Personality | Provoke empathy | Reciprocation | Rephrasing & renaming | Scarcity | Social proof

Anchoring | Antifeatures & crippleware | Bundling | Degrading performance | First one free | Forced dichotomy | Format lock-in/out | Functional obsolescence | I cut, you choose | Poison pill | Serving suggestion | Slow/no response | Style obsolescence | Worry resolution

Coercive atmospherics | Peerveillance | Sousveillance | Surveillance | Threat of injury | Threat to property | What you can do | What you have | What you know | What you’ve done | Where you are | Who or what you are


If you've used the cards and found them useful (or not), it would really be appreciated if you could have a go at a quick 5-minute survey. Every 40 respondents, there'll be a mini-prize draw for a book on interaction design, UX, architecture, or similar. The 39th respondent's just finished!

How to use the cards

The cards can be used to help inspire brainstorming or idea generation, to explore design methods potentially relevant to a brief, to analyse existing systems, or as a reference. More here on how to use them in different ways.

Who else's work should I be looking at?

(This section to follow very soon)


(Coming soon)

About the authors

Dan Lockton has a BSc (Hons) in Industrial Design Engineering from Brunel University and a Master's in Technology Policy from the University of Cambridge, and started his PhD at Brunel in 2007 as part of Brunel Design's Cleaner Electronics Research Group. He is currently research assistant on the EMPOWER project, a collaboration between Brunel University, the University of Warwick and More Associates, funded by the Technology Strategy Board and EPSRC as part of the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform. He has worked as a researcher, product designer and engineering designer on projects for clients in consumer products, transportation and mobility. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2008, and has presented internationally on persuasive technology, behaviour change, user experience and sustainable design.

Professor David Harrison is Professor of Design Research at Brunel University, and has led many research projects in environmentally sensitive design, including conductive lithography for reduced impact of electronics manufacturing, the first ecological foot-printing of electronics, and methods for calculating optimal ecological lifetimes for products.

Professor Neville A. Stanton is an internationally recognised expert in ergonomics and human performance in technological domains, and Chair of Human Factors in Transport at the University of Southampton.

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