Here's a simple experiment for you the next time you go shopping for clothes or electronics. Instead of paying for your purchase by simply swiping your credit card - how about writing out a check, or better yet - paying by cash (I know we rarely carry cash these days ... but thats part of the point ... keep reading).
Play the scenario out as a thought experiment in your head - and rank the option that would make you feel the most "pain" for having spent the money? If you're like most people - it would be cash, then check and then the credit card.
This is not surprising at all considering that one of the key levers a designer can pull towards making a habit sticky is to remove the "friction" in the process. The more frictionless the behavior - the more easier it is to make this a habit. Consider all the little things that have been introduced to influence your shopping habits over time:
1. Cash and Checks gave way to Cards.
2. Cards are giving way to NFC taps (Apple Pay is an example of this). Why mess around with cards when you can have everything on your phone?
3. Your browser now stores all your card information - auto complete quickly reduces the time for you to have second thoughts about your purchase.
4. Even better - consider one-click purchasing and dash buttons - which allow you to purchase anything you want with just the push of a button. The button's jumped out of the screen and into the physical world.*
Your shopping is so much easier. You've got everything at the push of a button. You're in charge!
Or are you?
Sure, as an engineer/designer/ creative/ business professional you're probably not too stressed about debt - but what about the average consumer who's juggling multiple jobs - being crushed under a mountain of debt?
How can you help build products that help users take back control? Leave us your thoughts in the comments!
* What's next? Tiny drones that follow you around with a little shopping cart?