Over kinderen, hun psychische problemen, hun ouders en hun behandelaars.

OPEN: “My day was a 0!”

Much of the interaction in OPEN will take place through online forms. Our challenge is to design them with such precision that they inspire people to communicate what they’re feeling, experiencing, thinking and expecting.

Dit is de derde post van James Boekbinder over de ontwikkeling van OPEN. U kunt ook zijn eerdere bijdragen lezen:
– OPEN: where non-professionals contribute insights that improve treatment
– OPEN: Telling us what they didn’t know that they knew

Designing for emotion

Of course, in real life if you asked someone how their day went, and they said ‘Bad!’, you wouldn’t say: ‘Please rate that on a scale of one to ten’. You’d say something like: “Oh, really… sorry to hear that. [Pause] What happened?”

But how to respond in such a sensitive way when we have only checkboxes, Likert scales, text boxes and virtual buttons to work with?

One of the keys is to focus first on the emotional and not on the factual content of the interaction. The fact is that people respond to forms driven by artificial intelligence as though they were other people, and this opens the door to an emotional response that inspires meaningful exchanges. If the emotional tone is right, they’ll experience the form like any other important conversation. And they’ll be highly motivated to complete it.

Art and science: designing a dialogue

OPEN: designing a dialogueAchieving the right emotional tone is firstly a matter of creative writing, visualizing and acting. Writing questions and instructions in a tone of voice that creates the right idea of the dialogue we want to have with respondents. Creating visual styling that makes a person feel at home. ‘Play-acting’ the dialogue with the user and writing it into realistic scenarios which shape the exchange.

Then comes science: painstaking visual organization of type and the other elements in the pictorial space to reduce cognitive, visual and motor load that might create frustration, confusion or distraction. Offering help texts and instructions at precisely the right moment to support the respondent, without being intrusive.

First prototype test

Our first prototype test was a simple demo with a volunteer during a meeting of the Experience Council of the Dutch Knowledge Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Our respondent was the parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder. The question on the mobile device was simple: How did school go today? Her emotion was clear to see when she punched the lowest number on the rating scale, saying: “Bad! That’s how it’s going.” She went on to give a detailed story without any major hitches.

This will now be followed by many more tests, as we create a full-scale prototype of the system, piece by piece, test by test, including working mobile and other interfaces.

Results from eye-tracking, observing and interviewing by ourselves and others have shown us that a difference of a few pixels can add dozens of unnecessary eye movements, a sign of confusion. A slight change in wording of a single line of text can evoke a response of hundreds of words more.

So we’ll be studying each response carefully for vital clues to success.

For more information about people’s response to computers, we recommend Clifford Nass’ pioneering work, summarized in ‘The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media Like Real People and Places’.

James Boekbinder Over James Boekbinder

interaction designer | filmmaker | self-educated system thinker | first US citizen on the payroll of Lenfilm | researcher | in love with partner from Russia | content strategist | in love with Amsterdam | educator of young designers at Rotterdam University of Applied Science | in love with cat from Greece