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Understanding Human Behavior & Habits

When designing websites and online applications, regardless if they are targeted at mobile or desktop devices, we must understand human behavior. Why? Because our design is going to influence people’s behavior. This is a powerful asset, but learning to use it and apply this knowledge to a real world project can be tricky sometime.

So what do I mean by behavior? Behavior is what we do in response to the events that are happening around us daily. It is what drives our action or inaction, and dictates what we buy, eat and think. It is the range of actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with their environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment. It is the response of the system or organism to various stimuli or inputs, whether internal or external, conscious or subconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary.

Going hand in hand with behavior is habit. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. A habit, from the standpoint of psychology, is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.

So when we design human interfaces today, we must always ask ourselves, What is the behavior I want to see? What outcome am I trying to design for?

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