Attention-driven design versus connection-driven design

Last week I wrote about the opportunity of designing for connection.

I‘d been inspired to think about this more recently after watching a TED talk by Tristan Harris: The manipulative tricks tech companies use to keep your attention.

Designing for attention is marketing, supporting a business model built on advertising. I’m going to call this ‘attention-driven’ design.

In many ways companies like Twitter and Facebook have adopted very traditional advertising models to monetise their products and the relationships people have with their platforms.

The alternative here is ‘connection-driven’ design.

There’s a choice in the design decisions we make. From how we help people navigate their timelines, to choosing to present content in a way that is more likely to deliver positive outcomes–meaningful social connections irrespective of screen time.

Connection-driven design feels like an opportunity to respond and design in a way that helps us meet user needs. The Facebook example Tristan talks about in the TED talk is very much about choosing to respond differently to emotional needs.*

How you respond with your design decisions is a choice.

* Earlier this year I wrote about the difference between emotional and practical user needs here: Understanding different types of user needs when designing services.