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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.

Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.