Goal Directed Design


Interaction Design


Lesson Info

Goal Directed Design

What goal directed design is, is a process for understanding people's goals, needs and motivations. And that's really, really important. Something I noticed in my career, a lot, especially early on, not so much here, but early on. People would get really hung up on that one idea, that they got attached to, that they really wanted to see done. Instead of focusing on, what are the goals of the people that we're trying to design for. Also, an important distinction is, the distinction between goals and tasks. 'Cos a lot of times, people will look at what are the steps to get something done, rather than on, what are you trying to accomplish with these steps? So, goals are an expectation of an end result. And tasks are the steps you do, to get there. And, if you're ever unsure, about whether you're dealing with a goal or a task. Goals are always driven by basic key human motivators, that have been around for thousands of years, for the most part. So they change slowly. For example, if I want...

to travel, from San Francisco to New York, safely and comfortably. 150 years ago, the steps to doing that would be, to walk to a train station, get on that steam train, and sit in that train as it rides across the country. Now, if you want to accomplish that same goal, there's a different way of doing it. How about this one, An accounting clerk says, "I want to process invoices efficiently." Is that a goal, or is that a task? Well, yeah, it actually is a goal. But it's not one of those, key human motivators. What this is, is a business goal. The business wants you, to process it more efficiently. Chances are, the accounting clerk doesn't really care that much, about processing it more efficiently. So, humans are, again, motivated by some basic human motivations, right? They want to be safe and comfortable. They want to get food. They want to be respected in their community. They want love, they want a sense of belonging, and connection to other people. People want variety and stimulation. And as you get older, you think more and more about leaving a legacy. So, the accounting clerk probably cares less about the invoices than cares about, wanting to look and feel competent, at their job. And stay engaged, while performing these routine tasks. And that's a user goal, that's something that, will remain the same. And this, conflict between business goals and user goals, is something, it's one of the classic problems you face, when you're designing products, right? 'Cos the business wants the people to do a certain thing, and then they build a product, based on what they want people to do. But they don't ever consider what people are trying to get out of it. And, it's the job of a good interaction designer, to always maintain focus on the user's goals. Another way of thinking about it, that I really like. Is, Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams, says, "Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a long time, identify that desire, and use technology to take out steps." So, this is really, really great. Because, you know, if you focus overly on the steps, like if you don't focus on goals, you risk getting stuck on the steps, rather than the goal. And if you get stuck on the steps, you risk getting stuck on outdated technologies, outdated ideas. And, yeah that sounds super obvious, if it's projected on a screen. But, when you're out in real life, you'd be surprised, how few people do this. It's much more common for people to get stuck on that first solution that pops into their mind, or something that I've seen a lot. If you're ever in a situation where someone says, or you ask, "Why are we doing it this way?", and they say, "It's always been done that way.". Then you're talking to someone who's stuck on tasks, versus goals. And, you'll encounter that more and more often, when you start working with really, really big companies. Who are invested in the way things have been done before. You have, like, entire infrastructures built up, for how things have been done in the past. And then, if there's a shift, it's really, really tough for them to change. So, in those cases, it's even more important to keep focusing on the goals because, when you meet people's goals, I mean the way that I think about it is, is, if you can help people get to where they're trying to go, more effectively, they'll buy your product. But if you're only thinking about yourself, they're probably not going to buy your product. It's the classic example, of how you, you only succeed by what you give, and not by, what you try to take. The next video, we're gonna talk about context. Later on, in the third segment, we're gonna go into greater detail about how to determine user goals. 'Cos I'm sure that's probably one of the questions, "Like how do I figure out what people's goals are?" Speaking of questions, are there any at this point? We have time for two. So being a designer, involves being, almost a psychiatrist in a way. Like, figuring out the thinking of, not only the business, but the user as well. Yeah. So, what happens when the business goals, are completely in the opposite direction, from what user goals are? I don't know, do you have something more specific, where the business goals are completely different from the user goals? 'Cos usually, there'll be some sort of overlap. I'm merely asking from a designer standpoint, when, you know, a business, it's assessing the business, and understanding the business. Yeah. First, I think as a designer, because I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm not a psychologist. It's trying to figure those things out quickly. 'Cos I think we all, kind of, understand where users are trying to go, at least from a cultural standpoint, individually, but, I'm wondering if there's an easier, way to, sort of, mesh the two. And to understand it. Yeah, so what works pretty well, in a lot of scenarios that I've been in, is Well, if there's a complete disparity between business and user goals, you might not have a product worth building right? Because, if this thing that you're building, it's, sort of, like product market fit right? So if you have a, if you have a product, and you think it's really cool, but you realize that no one is going to use it, you know, that's one possible course of action, to be like, "Hey these business goals and these user goals are so far apart, that it doesn't make sense to proceed any further.". If the business and user goals are a little bit closer than, this far apart, what works well. What's worked well for me in the past, is to frame, the user goals, talk to the business decision makers, and frame what the people are trying to do, in a way that it benefits the business, right? So, for example, if, this isn't my example, but I remember hearing about this one example. Where a designer was talking to an executive, and the executive, really wanted classical music to play, when the website opened. Because they loved classical music, and he thought it would be sublime, to have classical music. (laughs) Yeah, it's hard not to laugh, when you hear that right? But this designer, without batting an eye, was like, "Well, yeah that's a great suggestion but, based on the research, we know that there's invited actions, and uninvited actions. And uninvited actions lead to people bouncing away from the site, more likely. Which leads to, less engagement with your site." And then the business person was like, "Aah okay, that makes sense." So I think what, I've had situations like that a couple of times in my life, and I think that's a real hallmark between the novice designer, and the designer that's been doing it for a long time. Is that you see yourself, really see yourself, not see yourself just as someone that executes, what business people tell you. But as a co-creator that, that is educating the business people, the business people are experts at what they do, you're an expert at what you do. And you two come together, to create something that's better, than you could have created, apart from each other. I remember another time this happened. When I was at Google, they put me together with this product manager who was really inexperienced. And, sometimes he would just make suggestions that, made no sense at all. And, when I first started working there, I made the classic, eight years into my career, I made the rookie mistake of just doing what they tell me. Because, I was kind of intimidated, by being at Google. And, but as time progressed, I started asserting myself more. And when he made a suggestion, that made absolutely zero sense, I'd be like, "Okay, yeah that's cool but, there's this research, that says that if makes more sense to do it this way, and we've also tested it with these people.". And once I started doing that, you know, they responded really well to that. Business people respond well to data. And to reasons why, one particular solution will accomplish their goal, which is, usually to make more money.

Class Description

Interaction design defines the relationship between people and the product they use, from computers to mobile apps and beyond. In this introductory class, industry expert Jamal Nichols will explain what Interaction Design is and how to incorporate it into your work to create more meaningful experiences. Designers tend to focus on how things look, when the focus should equally be on how things work.

In this class, Jamal covers:
  • What Interaction design is and how to think about it 
  • Core principles and methods of interaction design 
  • How to master interaction design and create experiences that flow 
 If you work in the digital space and are a new or seasoned designer, this class is for you.



After viewing this course, I have a ton of ideas to bring back to my current projects, and how I can improve my past projects, as well as best prepare for the future. Jamal's extensive experience and real-world comparative examples, helped paint the picture on how to put this course content to good use in my day-to-day design activities. I appreciate Creative Live's layout of limiting 2 questions per segment. This allowed for more time for content and I'm able to write down my questions to address and connect with Jamal offline. I'm also grateful that Jamal/Creative Live organized the course segments in a timely way that the course went fast but stayed memorable and understandable. The bonus materials are such an invaluable source of information! Jamal conveys his knowledge and passion for interaction design easily. You can tell he genuinely cares about paying his experience forward, by how he expresses his design approach and how he really listens when he's asked a question. He takes his time to think before he speaks in order to address the questions clearly so everyone can benefit. Thank you Jamal and THANK YOU CREATIVE LIVE!

Veronica Reyes

I really enjoyed this class. I've had some previous experience and training with interaction design, so this in depth course helped to re-instate core concepts and techniques as well as introducing more examples, tools, scenarios and resources that all in all made me more confident and excited about interaction design. Creative Live organized a seamless event, had delicious food, snacks and refreshments throughout the day and were very nice. Thank you CL!

Daniel Bell

This course was so much fun to watch. Jamal is a very engaging speaker and went into great detail while still being direct and to the point. The bonus videos are great! They feel like a behind the scenes look and he really goes off script to give detailed answers to questions like how to design your portfolio site. Great class!