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Designing for Positive Change: Examples of Behavior-Shaping Design


Design can certainly influence human behavior in various ways. Here are a few examples:

Encouraging positive habits: Design can be used to promote positive behaviors by making it easier or more attractive to engage in them. For example, designing a fitness app with a user-friendly interface and motivational features can encourage people to exercise regularly.

Creating a sense of urgency: Design can also create a sense of urgency that motivates people to take action. For example, a website that displays a limited-time offer can prompt users to make a purchase sooner rather than later.

Making behavior more socially acceptable: Design can also influence behavior by making certain actions more socially acceptable. For example, placing recycling bins in prominent locations can encourage people to recycle more often.

Reducing barriers to behavior: Design can also help reduce barriers to behavior by making it easier for people to perform certain actions. For example, designing a website with clear and simple navigation can make it easier for users to find what they're looking for.

Now, let's explore 20 specific examples of how design can change human behavior:


  • Placing Healthier Food Options at Eye-Level in Grocery Stores

Grocery stores can use design to encourage healthier food choices by placing healthier options at eye-level. This makes it easier for customers to find and choose healthy options, ultimately leading to healthier eating habits.

  • Physically Separated Bike Lanes

Designing physically separated bike lanes can encourage people to choose cycling as a mode of transportation. By making cycling safer and more convenient, people are more likely to use it as a way to get around, ultimately leading to more sustainable cities.

  • Progress Bars on Websites

Progress bars can be used to motivate users to complete multi-step processes, such as signing up for a service or completing a purchase. By giving users a sense of progress, they are more likely to complete the process and achieve their goal.

  • Fitness Apps with Reward Systems

Fitness apps can encourage people to exercise more frequently by using reward systems. By incentivizing users to meet their fitness goals, they are more likely to stick to their workout routine and achieve their fitness goals.

  • Workplace Safety Signs

Signs that display the number of days since the last workplace accident can motivate employees to be more mindful of safety procedures. This can ultimately lead to a safer workplace and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

  • Recycling Bins in Hotel Rooms

Designing hotel rooms with recycling bins can encourage guests to recycle their waste. By making recycling convenient and accessible, guests are more likely to make environmentally-friendly choices while they travel.

  • Comfortable Seating in Public Spaces

Public spaces with comfortable seating can encourage people to spend more time there. By creating a welcoming and comfortable environment, people are more likely to enjoy their time in the space and return in the future.

  • Fuel Efficiency Displays on Car Dashboards

Car dashboards that display fuel efficiency can encourage drivers to be more conscious of their driving habits. By promoting fuel-efficient driving, drivers can reduce their carbon footprint and save money on gas.

  • Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats that adjust automatically based on occupancy can encourage energy conservation. By automatically adjusting the temperature when no one is home, homeowners can reduce their energy consumption and save money on utility bills.

  • Easy-to-Use Public Transportation

Designing public transportation systems that are easy to use and navigate can encourage people to use it instead of driving. By making public transportation more accessible and convenient, people are more likely to choose it as a mode of transportation, ultimately leading to more sustainable cities.

  • Sustainable Packaging Design

Packaging design that uses sustainable materials can encourage consumers to choose eco-friendly products. By making sustainable products more appealing and accessible, consumers are more likely to make environmentally-friendly choices while they shop.

  • Biophilic Building Design

Building design that incorporates natural light and plants can improve people's mood and productivity. By incorporating biophilic elements into building design, people are more likely to feel happy and motivated in their workspace.

  • Personalized Music Playlists

Music apps that use personalized playlists can encourage users to discover new music and listen more frequently. By curating playlists based on users' music preferences, users are more likely to enjoy their music listening experience and return to the app in the future.

  • Reward Systems in Mobile Games

Mobile games that use reward systems can encourage engagement and repeat play. By incentivizing users to complete certain tasks and achieve goals, users are more likely to spend time playing the game and return in the future.

  • Responsive Website 

Responsive design on websites can improve user experience and encourage longer browsing sessions. By optimizing a website for different devices and screen sizes, users can easily navigate the site and access the content they need, ultimately leading to a more positive experience.

  • Clean Public Restrooms

Public restrooms that are clean and well-maintained can encourage people to use them instead of seeking out alternatives. By creating a positive restroom experience, people are more likely to feel comfortable using public restrooms and reduce the risk of public urination or defecation.

  • Easy-to-Assemble Product Design

Product designs that are easy to assemble can encourage customers to make purchases and recommend the product to others. By making the assembly process simple and intuitive, customers are more likely to feel confident in their purchase and recommend the product to friends and family.

  • Public Art in Street Design

Street design that incorporates public art can improve the aesthetic appeal of the area and encourage people to spend time there. By creating a visually interesting and engaging environment, people are more likely to enjoy spending time in the space and return in the future.

  • Healthier Menu Design

Menu design that highlights healthier options can encourage diners to make healthier choices. By making healthier options more visible and appealing, diners are more likely to choose them and ultimately make healthier eating choices.

  • Clear and Concise Language on Websites

Websites that use clear and concise language can improve user comprehension and encourage engagement. By making content easy to understand and accessible, users are more likely to enjoy their experience on the site and return in the future.

In conclusion, design can have a significant impact on human behavior. From motivating us to make healthier choices to encouraging us to use public transportation, design can shape the way we interact with our environment and ultimately influence the decisions we make. By using design strategically, we can create more sustainable and positive environments that encourage healthier habits and behaviors.