Group Identity and User Connections

I have recently been researching and teaching myself more tools to polish my user experience skills and be more connected to my players. Earlier this week I realized that the stuff I’ve been reading and trying out on my own is showing up in my work and I feel even more confident in my designs.

I’m in the middle of How to Get People to Do Stuff by Dr. Susan Weinschenk and doing some freelance web design for a local non-profit arts group. The ideas from the second chapter, “Use Nouns, Not Verbs” has impacted how I have initially designed asking people to subscribe to the newsletter and apply to be a volunteer.

Dr. Weinschenk says “The need to belong can have very subtle effects.” I think this applies even to people who belong to the identity of avoiding belonging (a “non-conformist” or “hipster” aesthetic). She identifies a survey in which more people voted the following day when asked about being a voter instead of voting. The people who identified as voters felt that they belonged to that specific group and had an obligation to fulfill their role within the group. She goes on to say that when you “invoke a sense of belonging… and people are much more likely to comply with your request.”

In another part of the book, Dr. Weinschenk is talking about the power of stories and the “Anchor to a Persona” strategy in order to create new personas. The first study cited talks about how a group of Californians (group A) were asked to put a “quite large and fairly ugly” sign in their front yard that said DRIVE CAREFULLY. Naturally, fewer than 20% of group A agreed. A different set of people, group B, were asked to put a small “Drive carefully” sign in their car windows. Three weeks later, when this same group was asked (by a different experimenter, so no relationship or trust had been established) to display the original sign in their yard, 76% said yes! Dr. Weinschenk concludes that group B over the first three weeks were able to create for themselves a story and activate the persona that they cared about safety on the roads, so a request to amplify that persona was very likely to be accepted.

So, how to relate this to my current project: I know viewers are on this website because they have a non-0% interest in the arts community. The hardest part is done, really. But how can I get them to keep coming back? While I’m not the one who will be sending out newsletters, answering questions, or assembling volunteers, I am doing the initial prompting of “hey be part of this group”!


A weak call-to-action based on How to Get People to Do Stuff:

  • Sign up for our newsletter
  • Subscribe to community updates
  • Enter your email to receive our newsletter

A better way: These ways identify the group/subtly poke a persona or story someone has for them self, then prompts the sign up.

  • Community members can stay updated through our newsletter
  • Care about the arts? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Recruiting Volunteers

The same weak call-to-actions as above apply, but volunteering is more effort than just reading a newsletter, so there are some other requests I want to use, other than simply “Be a volunteer”:

  • Organizers needed for theatrical events
  • Be one of our creative volunteers (saying “ours” and “creative” anchors two other identities to this persona)

Building this project alongside reading this book as helped me identify more create ways to “get people to do stuff” and put it into practice. The website isn’t live yet so I don’t have any data beyond the art board giving me feedback, but I’m hoping it will have a strong impact along with the board’s personable outreach efforts.

P.S.: Yes I do totally want to improve the wording of this blog’s featured image to “Calling all trendsetters! Don’t miss the latest styles.” or “Influencers find it here first. Sign up to be the most fashionable fashionista on your feed.”

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