The Desire code blog

Ask for Permission

Enjoying the freedom to act is a key factor in human motivation. Feeling in control of a process or situation makes us feel happier about it. (read more>>)

Alternative Solutions

What big problems are you trying to solve? Are you taking the expected, predictable and automatic approach to solving them? (read more>>)

Where Are Your Customers?

Where do you find your customers? In what way do you draw them in? And what you know they will find appealing? (read more>>)

Visible Demand

As complex, social beings, we take a lot of our cues from the actions of others. (read more>>)

Stick or Switch

The problem with focusing on what we don’t like is obvious – it damages what we feel about our choices. (read more>>)

Raising the Value of Free

Reducing resistance to participation only addresses one side of the equation. We also need to show that it's desirable and worthwhile. (read more>>)

Barrier Bashing

When we write out a long list of our assumptions of the barriers preventing people from participating, and seek to eliminate them one at a time. (read more>>)

Who Was Offended?

What are you afraid to start because you are unsure what the reaction might be? Can you turn it into an opportunity for a conversation? (read more>>)

The App Tour

What rituals or behaviours help you navigate your days or your weeks? Which brands feature in them? (read more>>)

A Free Metro Ride

A free one-way ticket on the Moscow Metro for passengers completing 30 Olympic-standard standing squats in 2 minutes. (read more>>)

The Lion and The Antelope

The way the narrative is set up for us determines who we are emotionally invested in, who we want to succeed. (read more>>)

Asking the Winner

When we ask the winner how they did what they did what we hear reflected back to us is their belief about the ingredients that led to their achievement. (read more>>)

The Decison Machine

If a machine could tell you every decision and every action you need to take to lead the longest, healthiest, wealthiest life, would you listen to it? (read more>>)

Naming Boats

Imagine if everything we did in life was like naming a boat, with no opportunity to change our minds afterwards. (read more>>)

Scraping the Barrel

Next time you see a Top 10 list ask yourself which of the following two categories it falls into… (read more>>)

Describing Emotions

There are some more wonderful examples of words we don’t have in English, that describe emotions and experiences we are all familiar with. (read more>>)

Kickable Stones

In behavioural economics, the fast, intuitive type of thinking is referred to as "system 1", and the slower, rational type of thinking is referred to as "system 2". (read more>>)

Logo Soup

Considering every brand has its own unique style, colour scheme and identity, when you mash them all together in one place, you get a lot of visual noise. (read more>>)


You don’t have to like coffee, you don’t even have to drink the coffee, but if you buy enough of them, you can have a free one. (read more>>)

Familiarity Bias

We have an instinctive preference for and feel more positive about experiences, brands, music, people and products we already know. (read more>>)

The Cocktail Party Effect

There are some sounds we are conditioned to react to, sounds that instantly demand priority for our conscious attention. (read more>>)

Unnecessary Complexity

Do you have an unnecessary level of complexity anywhere in your service that customers find confusing? (read more>>)

The Dyson Store Experience

“You choose your poison and then choose your weapon”, the brilliant way Dyson let customers test their products. (read more>>)

Free Delivery

Give customers assurance they are right to be buying from you by taking away from them the risk of making a bad choice. (read more>>)

The Stretch Approach

Start with a short-term challenge and then work on stretching it once your customers have experienced the benefits. (read more>>)

Engineering Fun

Fun is a wildly overused term, so much so that it’s lost its currency and using it creates an unfortunate subtext of low expectations. (read more>>)


Chunking a large, difficult task into smaller pieces it keeps the near future in the focus of customers. (read more>>)

The Next Step

At each step of your customer journey do you explicitly tell customers what the next step is, who will take it, when it will be done by and what to expect? (read more>>)

10000 People

If 10,000 people formed an orderly queue at Starbucks and it took 45 seconds for each drink to be made, the queue would be 6.5 miles long. (read more>>)

The Buzz Moment

Nothing gives people more confidence to want to achieve something difficult than the experience of success. (read more>>)

What's Your Story?

Possibly the best example I’ve ever seen of a brand telling a story about who they are and what they stand for. (read more>>)

Your Today Product

If someone bought your product or used your service today, what benefit would they actually get today? (read more>>)

An Unfortunate Guarantee

When the framing of a reward makes the product or service on offer sound naff and undesirable. (read more>>)

Wasting People's Time

You are probably aware of what problems in your service are costing you. What might they be costing your customers? (read more>>)

What The System Saw

When the indicators tell you you are doing a great job but there may be a whole layer of other things going on making it hard for customers. (read more>>)

Multiple Channels

The more channels you have available for people to be able to reach you, the more comfortable you make it for them to engage with you. (read more>>)

Falling Satellites

What happens when a satellite the size of a “washing machine” makes it through re-entry and crashes back down to Earth? (read more>>)

Expecting Too Much

How many steps can you reasonably expect your customers to go through in order to buy or use your service? (read more>>)

6g Of Salt

If you have a message that needs attention and is worth sharing, don’t start with a number. (read more>>)

The First Step Is Not The Hardest

We can kid ourselves that we have cracked a new behaviour by the fact we got started, and when we experience some early success. (read more>>)

The Risk of Seagull Poop

For me the greatest risk my bed linen faces when it’s hung outside to dry is not from rain, but from seagull poop. (read more>>)

The Obvious

What in your service would you consider to be the obvious - the stuff you assume customers and employees already know? (read more>>)

Kinds of Help

When used to describe products and services “help” is one of those words that usually suggests a lack of certainty for customers. (read more>>)

4 Simple Tests

What is the simplest version you can come up with to describe what your service offers, or what your product does? (read more>>)

A Sprint For The Princesses

At Disney World Florida there is one experience that always has a 90-120-minute wait regardless of the time of day. (read more>>)

5 Billion Calories

If you want to change behaviour, any information you give has to be as personalised, relevant and easy to conceptualise as possible. (read more>>)

People Who Are Like Us

Humans have an extra-liking for others with whom we share a key common thing; people in a recognisable in-group with us. (read more>>)

"Bamboozle" Situations

Getting bumped back to the start again is frustrating. Especially after you’ve put in time, effort and emotional energy to get to where you are. (read more>>)

Bring It Closer

When there is a significant distance between the action a person takes and the outcome of their behaviour. (read more>>)

The Snooze Game

When we set a number of alarms, knowing we’ll hit the snooze button a couple of times at least. (read more>>)

Probability Language

How we convey to another person the likelihood of something happening. (read more>>)

Buy Now Pay Later

Time doesn’t just alter our experience of events, it also adjusts the value we place on the things we want. (read more>>)

Distorted Time

We don’t think of time in a linear way. And we don’t see time, instead we experience it. (read more>>)

How Do You Feel at 7am?

A great example of working towards a thing you want rather than away from something you don’t. (read more>>)

How Was Your Weekend?

Are you using cup of tea language? And would real people have a conversation like that? (read more>>)

Guarantee What You Don't Control

Let’s switch it up a gear… what about guaranteeing the things you don’t control? (read more>>)

A Guarantee To Try

You can guarantee what you control. And you probably control more than you realise. (read more>>)


It's never just one X. It's probably a lot of them over a really long time. (read more>>)

'X' is less bad than 'Y'

If you only do something to avoid something worse, you will never intrinsically enjoy it for its own sake. (read more>>)

Certainty Behaviour

Still to be convinced about our desire for certainty? Have you done any of these certainty-seeking things? (read more>>)

Selling Key Moments

The further from today it is, the harder it becomes to sell or the better the benefits have to be. (read more>>)

Catching Accidental Testimonials

Customers tend to write feedback very rationally. Can you instead catch accidental soundbites? (read more>>)

How Do You Choose a Holiday?

How do we make sure the ones we choose will give us the kind of experiences we are hoping for? (read more>>)

Investment or Experience

We have an instinctive preference for things we can have right now over the things we can have in the future. (read more>>)

Tips for Playing Lotto

Do you try to persuasively use odds and chance to get people using your services? We’re pretty rubbish at understanding them. (read more>>)

Reducing The Drop

Are there points in the journey where a lot of people drop out? Can you reduce the drop by even just a couple of percent? (read more>>)

Your Customer Journey

The step-by-step process customers go through whilst buying and using your products or service. (read more>>)

What do you call customers?

Service users, customers, readers, visitors, VIPs, guests? What do you call the people you do your thing for? (read more>>)

Answering the Second Question

Simply telling people about doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity is an example of answering the second question first. (read more>>)

Desirable and Easy

Products and services don't just need to be desirable, they also need to be easy to get. (read more>>)

Emotional Commercials

Humans are emotionally-driven decision makers. And each of these hyper-emotional commercials is a marvel in mini-storytelling. (read more>>)


Now that we have smartphones and mobile data we have found a way of entertaining ourselves for even the shortest amount of time. (read more>>)

The Experience Cycle

The experience cycle is based on a tourism and hospitality model and it considers behaviour change through the lens of a series of brilliantly designed experiences. (read more>>)

The 5 Desire Code Themes

Desire Code is a framework, a design approach, that allows us to harness our understanding of behavioural biases into the practical design of services and products. (read more>>)

Designing for want

What makes a product or service more desirable for customers? What do people instinctively prefer and desire? This is the Desire Code. (read more>>)