Design for the Mind
Seven Psychological Principles of Persuasive Design
Victor S. Yocco
  • June 2016
  • ISBN 9781617292958
  • 240 pages
  • printed in black & white

A fascinating insight into human nature that will inform your design process.

Dr. Adrian Ward, Award Technical Consulting Ltd.

Design for the Mind: Seven Psychological Principles of Persuasive Design teaches web designers and developers how to create sites and applications that appeal to our innate natural responses as humans. Author Victor Yocco, a researcher on psychology and communication, introduces the most immediately relevant and applicable psychological concepts, breaks down each theory into easily-digested principles, then shows how they can be used to inform better design.

About the Technology

Designers and design team members need to think about more than just aesthetics. How do you handle short attention spans. How does your design encourage users to engage, browse, or buy? Fortunately, there are psychological principles that you can use in your design to anticipate and benefit from how humans think, behave, and react.

About the book

Design for the Mind: Seven Psychological Principles of Persuasive Design teaches you to recognize how websites and applications can benefit from an awareness of our innate, natural responses as humans, and to apply the same principles to your own designs. This approachable book introduces the psychological principles, deconstructs each into easily digestible concepts, and then shows how you can apply them. The idea is to deepen your understanding of why people react in the ways they do. After reading the book, you'll be ready to make your work more psychologically friendly, engaging, and persuasive.

Table of Contents detailed table of contents

Part 1: Introducing the Application of Psychology to Design

1. Meeting Users' Needs: Including Psychology in Design

1.1. Principles Included in this book

1.1.1. Design to create and change behaviors

1.1.2. Design for influence and persuasion

1.2. Criteria for inclusion in this book

1.2.1. Taught in graduate school

1.2.2. Citations: A popularity contest

1.2.3. Simplicity

1.2.4. Relevant to design

1.3. Why You Should Read this Book

1.3.1. You Will Gain Knowledge

1.3.2. You Will Learn how to Think Like Your Users

1.3.3. You Will Learn to Communicate the Needs of Users

1.4. What this Book Won't Teach You

1.5. Addressing Psychology Enhances Usability

1.5.1. What Designing Without Psychology Looks Like

1.5.2. What Designing with Psychology Looks Like

1.6. And Now, a Passionate Word on Persuasion

1.7. Talking the Talk: Conversations about psychology

1.8. Summary

1.9. Cheat Sheet

Part 2: Why do folks act like that? Principles of behavior

2. Designing for Regular Use: Addressing Planned Behavior

2.1. Introduction

2.1.1. Brief Academic Background

2.2. Key Concepts of Planned Behavior

2.2.1. People want a positive outcome

2.2.2. People want to know what others are doing

2.2.3. People want control

2.2.4. People often intend to engage in a behavior

2.3. How to Design for Users' Plans

2.3.1. Design for positive outcomes of using your design

2.3.2. Make your design socially acceptable

2.3.3. Giving users control

2.3.4. Understanding Who's in charge of the Behavior

2.3.5. Designing for Intention

2.4. Talking the Talk: Conversations about planned behavior

2.5. Case Study:

2.5.1. Behavior Beliefs

2.5.2. Normative Beliefs

2.5.3. Control

2.6. End of Chapter Exercise: Applying Planned Behavior Research to Design

2.6.1. Scenario

2.6.2. Participants

2.6.3. Data

2.6.4. Questions

2.7. Additional resources

2.8. Summary

3. Risky Decisions & Mental Shortcuts

3.1. Introduction

3.1.1. Brief Academic Background

3.2. Key Concepts of Decision Making Under Risk

3.2.1. First people go through editing

3.2.2. Next, people go through evaluation

3.2.3. What impacts the evaluation of uncertain decisions people make

3.3. How to Design for Decisions Under Risk

3.3.1. Determine Users' Reference Point

3.3.2. Define and Design for Users' Decision Points

3.3.3. Design for Loss Aversion

3.3.4. Design for the Certainty Effect

3.3.5. Design for the Disposition Effect

3.3.6. How to Design for Heuristics

3.4. Talking the talk: Conversations about decisions under risk and users' mental shortcuts

3.5. Case Study eBay

3.5.1. Reference Point

3.5.2. The Certainty Effect and Scarcity Heuristic

3.5.3. The Availability Heuristic

3.5.4. The Familiarity Heuristic

3.5.5. Escalation of Commitment

3.5.6. The Scarcity Heuristic

3.6. End of Chapter Exercise: Name that Heuristic! and What's Your Product's Sticky Behavior

3.6.1. Name that Heuristic

3.6.2. Sticky Behaviors

3.7. Additional Resources

3.8. Summary

4. Motivation, Ability, and Trigger - Boom!

4.1. Introduction

4.1.1. Brief Academic Background

4.2. Key Concepts of Motivation, Ability, and Trigger

4.2.1. People Need Motivation to Complete a Task

4.2.2. People Need the Ability to complete the task

4.2.3. People Need Triggers to Engage in the Task

4.3. How to Design for Motivation, Ability, and Trigger

4.3.1. Increasing Motivation

4.3.2. Increasing Ability

4.3.3. Presenting Effective Triggers

4.3.4. Mobile Design Increases Ability

4.4. Talking the talk: Conversations About Motivation, Ability, and Trigger

4.5. Case Study: Fitbit

4.6. End of chapter Exercise: Motivation, Ability, and Triggers

4.6.1. Motivation, Ability, or Trigger

4.6.2. Design Challenge — Wearable technology to achieve better health

4.7. Additional Resources

4.8. Summary

Part 3: Principles of Influence and Persuasion: Not as Evil as You'd Think

5. Influence: Getting People to Like and Use Your Design

5.1. Introduction

5.1.1. Brief Academic Background

5.2. Key Concepts of Influence

5.2.1. Reciprocity

5.2.2. Commitment and Consistency

5.2.3. Consultation

5.2.4. Visual and Audio Influence

5.3. How to Design for Influence

5.3.1. Creating a Sense of Reciprocity

5.3.2. Activating Commitment and Consistency

5.3.3. Facilitating Consultation

5.3.4. Visual influence

5.3.5. Influence to stay away from

5.4. Talking the Talk: Conversations About Influence

5.5. Case Study: LinkedIn

5.5.1. Reciprocity

5.5.2. Commitment and consistency

5.5.3. Consultation

5.6. End of Chapter Exercise

5.7. Additional Resources

5.8. Summary

6. Using Family, Friends, and Social Networks to Influence Users

6.1. Introduction

6.1.1. Brief Academic Background

6.2. Key Concepts of Social Influence

6.2.1. Social Identity Theory —

6.2.2. Social Validation

6.2.3. Compliance

6.2.4. Conformity

6.2.5. Opinion leaders

6.3. How to Design for Social Influence

6.3.1. Users want to see what they have in common with others

6.3.2. Socially Validating Your Design

6.3.3. Getting Users to Comply

6.3.4. Encouraging Users to Conform

6.3.5. Harnessing the Power of Opinion Leaders

6.4. Talking the Talk: Conversations About Social Influence

6.5. Case Study: Drought Shaming

6.5.1. Social identity theory and drought shaming

6.5.2. Social Validation

6.5.3. Compliance

6.5.4. Conformity

6.5.5. Opinion Leaders

6.6. End of Chapter Exercise

6.7. Additional Resources

6.8. Summary

7. It's Not What You Say; It's How You Say It!

7.1. Introduction

7.1.1. Brief Academic Background

7.2. Key Concepts of Framing Communication

7.2.1. People need to understand the message

7.2.2. People need motivated by the message

7.3. How to Design for Framing Communication

7.3.1. Identify what you want to communicate

7.3.2. User Research

7.3.3. Choose a framing technique

7.3.4. Choose your frame of communication

7.3.5. Create your message

7.3.6. Test your message

7.3.7. Release your well framed message

7.4. Talking the talk: Conversations about framing communication

7.5. Case Study:

7.5.1. A Variety of Frames: The Buckshot Approach

7.5.2. Is the CDC's approach effective?

7.6. End of Chapter Exercise: Find a Frame that Works!

7.7. Additional Resources

7.8. Summary

8. Persuasion: The Deadliest Art

8.1. Introduction

8.1.1. Brief Academic Background

8.2. Key Concepts of Persuasion

8.2.1. Determining if People Pay Attention: Capability and Relevancy

8.2.2. Central Route Processing

8.2.3. Peripheral Route Processing

8.3. How to Design for Persuasion

8.3.1. Getting users to pay close attention

8.3.2. Designing for Users' Paying Close Attention

8.3.3. Designing for Users with Low Attention

8.4. Talking the talk: Conversations About Persuasion

8.5. Case Study: PayPal

8.5.1. Attention

8.5.2. High Attention

8.5.3. Low Attention

8.6. End of Chapter Exercise

8.6.1. Personas

8.6.2. Research

8.7. Additional Resources

8.8. Summary

9. Case Study: KidTech Design Company's Good Choice App

9.1. Introduction

9.2. Using Psychology to Justify an Idea

9.2.1. How Would You Use Psychology to Justify the Good Choice App

9.2.2. How KidTech Used Psychology to Justify the Good Choice App: Planned Behavior

9.2.3. How KidTech extended Planned behavior into the design of their product

9.3. Nervous Parents and Uncertain Outcomes

9.3.1. How would you reassure parents and address uncertainty

9.3.2. How KidTech addressed reassuring parents and uncertainty

9.4. Making it Social

9.4.1. How would you make the Good Choice app social

9.4.2. How KidTech made the app social

9.5. Speaking Clearly to Users

9.5.1. How would you recommend KidTech talk to users?

9.5.2. How KidTech designed their communication strategy?

9.6. Long-Term Engagment

9.6.1. How would you make users want to keep using the app?

9.6.2. How KidTech facilitated long-term use of the app

9.7. Low Use of App after Download

9.7.1. How would you help KidTech increase use after download?

9.7.2. How KidTech addressed increasing use after download

9.8. A Closer Look at Persuasion

9.8.1. How do you think the Good Choice app addresses the principle persuasion from Chapter 8?

9.8.2. How KidTech's app addresses the principle persuasion from Chapter 8?

9.9. Talking the talk: Conversations about psychological principles

9.10. End of Chapter Exercise: Critique KidTech

9.11. Summary

10. The Next Step: Getting up and Running

10.1. Part of the whole

10.1.1. Phase One: Idea Conceptualization

10.1.2. Phase Two: Design Conceptualization

10.1.3. Phase Three: Design Iteration

10.1.4. Phase Four: Post Shipment

10.2. Choosing the right principle

10.3. Making the case for psychology

10.4. UX Research Methods

10.5. Measuring Impact

10.6. Talking the talk: Your turn to discuss principles of psychology

10.6.1. Idea conceptualization

10.6.2. Choosing the right principle

10.6.3. Conducting Research

10.6.4. Measuring effectiveness

10.7. End of Chapter Exercise: Which Principle is Best for Your Design?

10.8. Additional Resources

10.9. Summary

What's inside

  • Making design persuasive
  • Encouraging visitors to take action
  • Creating enduring messages
  • Meeting the needs of both engaged and disengaged visitors
  • Becoming a strategic influencer
  • Applying theory, with case studies and real-world examples

About the reader

This book is for web and UX designers and developers as well as anyone involved in customer-facing digital products.

About the author

Victor Yocco, PhD, is a research director at a Philadelphia-based digital design firm. He received his PhD from The Ohio State University, where his research focused on psychology and communication in informal learning settings. Victor regularly writes and speaks on topics related to the application of psychology to design and addressing the culture of alcohol use in design and technology. He can be found at or @victoryocco on Twitter.

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