Motivational UX™ : A Newbie’s Perspective

By Guy Borgford, Director, Business Development

Joining digital engagement agency, Smashing Ideas, just a few, short weeks ago, I was quickly brought up to speed on Motivational UX™ , a cornerstone of our success. It sounded like a lot of stuff I’ve heard in one way or another over my 20+ years in the digital space, but Smashing Ideas had taken it, institutionalized it, and made it a foundation of great work.

So what is Motivation UX™  and why is it so critical to human/machine interface design?  For starters the framework has endless applications. Motivational UX™ has it roots based in a decades old methodology, known as Motivational Design, as defined by, a website devoted to explore and better understand human motivation:

“Motivational design refers to the process of arranging resources and procedures to bring about changes in motivation. Motivational design can be applied to improving students’ motivation to learn, employees’ motivation to work, the development of specific motivational characteristics in individuals, and to improving peoples’ skills in self-motivation.”

With a world that presents us with ever-increasing points of human-machine interaction, demands on time, and expectations of immediate gratification, designers are now – more than ever – required to fully understand whom they are designing for and what the goals are of each and every interaction.

And it’s not just about what we designers or business owners want people to do [our goals], it’s about the goals of that person engaging with the experience. What is their end game? What can we do to make that digital journey memorable, enjoyable, and seemingly effortless? How can we meet their needs in the most engaging way, whether that’s to get a product in their shopping cart or provide countless hours of entertainment through a gaming experience?

To do this, Smashing Ideas starts with something called Experience Mapping where we get the right people together in a room for a deep-dive on what the user expects – their thoughts, needs and motivations. Not only does this process uncover new insights and confirm hypotheses around the project on deck, it also uncovers other aspects of your business and brand that leads to future opportunities. From a mountain of color-coded sticky notes, our strategy team distills down the data to key findings, paving the path for Lean UX, rapid prototyping, and a final design that’s formulated by the very people who will be using the digital experience the most.

It makes sense to build something alongside the people for whom you are building it, doesn’t it? Build it and they will come…as long as you have the right promotional infrastructure in place. But build it with them and they’ll keep coming back.

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