Destined to become a seminal work on innovative digital design.

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A comprehensive debut book demonstrates the application of behavioral psychology to digital design.

“Behavior change designer” may well become a widely recognized job title thanks to this breakthrough work. Bucher, who describes herself as a psychologist applying her knowledge to the design of behaviorally based digital experiences, has created a volume that is absorbing, timely, and (not surprisingly) impeccably designed. This tightly organized book begins with an authoritative overview of behavior change design and then logically addresses how to “achieve desired outcomes.” The rest of the book focuses not on design elements but design strategy as it relates to users. For example, one chapter discusses how to make choices easier while another covers how to help users overcome obstacles. Later chapters move into broader issues, such as how technology encourages connections and trust, how an organization benefits from behavior change design, and what the future holds for this emerging discipline. One especially strong aspect of the work is the author’s use of numerous examples in the form of full-color screen images accompanied by pertinent captions and detailed descriptions. Every one of these examples is relevant and illustrative of the text. Another valuable addition to the book is a feature at the end of each chapter called “Perspective,” in which the author introduces an expert and includes answers to questions that directly relate to the chapter. The insights of these individuals serve to further illuminate the author’s own writing by providing a different yet supporting viewpoint. Bucher also intersperses intriguing “Notes” and “Tips,” highlighted in color type to differentiate them. For example, in one tip, she provides a solid definition of the term “good decision” while a note reveals the importance of “Accessibility in Design,” or “making your products usable to people with disabilities.” Bucher’s explanations and observations are cogent, incisive, and research-based; they are often in easily readable bulleted form, augmented by the occasional useful chart. By the end of this superb book, readers will get the feeling that no aspect of behavior change design has been neglected.

Destined to become a seminal work on innovative digital design. (color diagrams, illustrations)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-933820-42-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Rosenfeld Media

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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