2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Evil by Design - Leading Customers Into Temptation

Written by Hugh Forrest | January 8, 2014

Chris Nodder explains evil design at SXSW Interactive 2014

The 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival will showcase more than 800 daytime sessions covering a complete gamut of topics relevant to the international community of digital creatives. Want to know more about these 800 daytime sessions? Then read today’s installment of the Session Spotlight, which focuses on “Evil by Design: Leading Customers Into Temptation”, a solo presentation led by Chris Nodder (@uxgrump) who lives just outside Seattle. The man behind Chris Nodder Consulting LLC, he is also the author of the book that goes by the same title as his session at SXSW Interactive 2014.

SXSW: What exactly will you be covering in the “Evil by Design” session at SXSW Interactive 2014?
Nodder: It's OK to deceive people. In fact we do it all the time already. There's a continuum from evil, through commercial and motivational to charitable deception. Customers themselves are often complicit in the deception: they want to be deceived! Rather than the futile task of trying not to deceive, instead ask what your motives are for deceiving. Learn the design patterns, notice when they are being used against you, and when you design products make sure you are deceiving for good, not for evil.

SXSW: Have you spoken on this topic before?
Nodder: This talk started as a keynote for some Nielsen Norman Group conferences, then morphed into a Usability Professionals Association presentation where, I'm pleased to say, we crowded enough people into the room to break the fire regulations. Since the Evil By Design book got published, I've spoken at book club events and by invitation at several companies. The session title is normally enough to draw people in, and people seem genuinely surprised when they leave with helpful advice as well as having an entertaining time.

SXSW: If a SXSW Interactive attendee is unfamiliar with this topic, will he / she be able to follow the discussion?
Nodder: I've found that audience members don't need much background in the persuasive design space in order to follow along. I like to explain the psychological basis for the design patterns and that often leads to "aha" moments for people. Even if you knew about that psychological quirk before, now you will know how to apply it. If you had seen the design pattern before, now you will know how it works. Either way you leave enlightened!

SXSW: Tell us a little more about why you are qualified to talk about this topic?
Nodder: I've been teaching interaction design to corporate clients for years, and over time I started introducing examples into my classes of where good design techniques were used for bad reasons. That evolved into the book I wrote - Evil By Design - and led me down this path.

SXSW: What more can you tell us about your session that will make registrants want to attend?
Nodder: I can pretty much guarantee that after coming to my session, you'll never browse the web in the same way again. How many other SXSW sessions can offer you that?

SXSW: Not necessarily related to your speaking topic at SXSW, what is your favorite current TV show and why?
Nodder: I don't watch much TV. When I do, I find the advertisements more interesting than most of the shows. It's really interesting seeing the tricks that marketers use to get you to first watch the commercial and then buy the thing they are selling.

Watch this space for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. Register now to attend “Evil by Design: Leading Customers Into Temptation” and other programming at SXSW Interactive 2014. Hurry, registration prices increase at the end of the day on Friday, January 10.

Chris Nodder photo is courtesy of Malene Rauhe.