How Motion Influences Persuasive UX
And the ethical lines we should not cross
How Many of us remember the New York Times forecast needle swinging wildly on election night?
It created massive amounts of anxiety — primarily caused by the fluctuating needle which was constantly waving left and right.
But how many of us followed up with this anxiety-producing animation and investigated its accuracy? Probably very few. If you had looked into it, you would have found this:
So rather than representing the data accurately, a front end developer added randomness to the rotation of the needle. A project manager approved it, presumably, and then the code was pushed live to all of America, raising anxiety in our already anxious brains. This is just one example of how animation controls a user’s psychological state. (Further reading of the NYT’s defense can be read here.)
My website UxMovesMe.com, created as my Master’s Thesis at NYU’s ITP, is an attempt to highlight 11 different principles at the intersection of Motion Graphics, Persuasive UX, and Ethics. It’s a plea to all designers and engineers to start conversing about ethics as motion becomes a very strong part of UI. Persuasive UX is becoming more ubiquitous, so let’s embrace it with the right mindset.
Before going to the site, I encourage you to watch this 10 minute video about the content:
The overarching interactivity of UxMovesMe.com is based on a new trend in UI, called the ‘Expolorable Explanation’. An explorable explanation allows the user to engage with the information by toggling on/off different parameters and seeing the effects of their actions. It’s about making the abstract concrete. It allows the reader to develop their own intuition for how a system works. The New York Times has starting implementing this concept a lot in their articles. As an example checkout this article: How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ and play with the embedded explorables, like this one:
I felt so strongly about the efficacy of explorable explanations that I’ve applied this to all of the principles on my site. UxMovesMe.com allows you to toggle each principle on and off. I’m also working to gather my own case studies about each principle, showing it being used in the real world today.
As often as possible, I’ve made the code for each principle open source, so look for the link to the code snippet below each example.
The timeframe to develop this site was only 14 weeks, as it was created as my Master’s Thesis. In that time I conceived it, researched the material (check out the interactive bibliography on the site!), wrote it, user-tested, and coded this material and website. It is a work in progress, so look out for updates. I consider myself a ‘designer who can code’ so if you are a developer that wants to contribute or collaborate, please reach out because I could use the help!
I also love speaking about this topic, so reach out if you’d like to chat!
Eve Weinberg is a UX and Motion Graphics Director and Designer. She has a 13 year career in design and animation. Five of those years she was running her own interactive motion graphics studio. Two of those years she was pursuing a Master’s Degree in HCI while doing client work on the side. This June she will start as an ‘Interaction Designer II’ at Frog Design in San Francisco.
She loves artistic expression through new media, animation in any medium (but preferably some wild mix of mediums), and cheesy pop songs.
ITP is a very unique Master’s Program. It is an Art & Tech HCI two-year program in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. ITP’s mission is to explore the imaginative use of ‘recently possible’ communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, bring delight and art into people’s lives, or how might they raise new issues that disrupt society. We are encouraged to always be thinking about the future of technology.
The ITP Thesis is one semester long and each student works individually, guided by faculty and experts in their field, to develop and produce a project of their choosing. It must prove mastery in a topic, both technically and conceptually. Wether it is a fully fleshed out idea, proof-of-concept of something larger, or a deep exploration of a new methodology, it must be presented as a 10 minute presentation to the community in the final week.