About the Applicant
Hotseat was borne out of a market opportunity for employers. The intent was to develop a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use mobile application specific to one problem, and very focused in its response to that problem. The design goals were for a simple and elegant interface that lowered barriers to use, increased stickiness, and targeted a single core behavior for intervention. During the design process, the team made sure to eliminate any distractions or deviations that didn’t fit the primary function of the tool, which is to get people up and moving throughout the day.
The concept for Hotseat came about from understanding employers’ ambitions regarding the health and well-being of their employees, current market offerings, and the nature of the current workplace environment that “nails” us to our seats for 8-9 hours each day. Mad*Pow’s concept and design was influenced by Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, as well as Thaler and Sunstein’s ‘Nudge’ approach to behavior change. Influence from game design theory and constructs of play also helped lower barriers to engagement, create quality social interactions, preserve user autonomy and energize forward motion through competence and self-efficacy building.
From a technology standpoint, Hotseat integrates with the native iCal application on ios devices, making it seamless for the app to find ideal opportunities for movement throughout the day and send users an alert nudge to perform those activities in time. From a social and behavioral context, Mad*Pow ensured the design supported activities that players feel capable and comfortable performing in a workplace environment, always offering choice and personalization to increase the chance of a movement being performed. To increase frequency of use over time or ‘stickiness’, a simple game mechanic was designed to bring coworkers, friends or family together in strategic gameplay that supports both cooperative and competitive modes of use, again preserving autonomy and personal, social and cultural preferences for play styles.
Knowing you should get up throughout the day and actually doing so isn’t as easy as it seems. For many of us, our jobs tie us to our desks. Meetings, phone calls and computer work all generally revolve around a chair. Hotseat is designed to take the thinking and initiative out of one’s hands. After each employee sets parameters, Hotseat prescribes when to get up and what to do next. When Hotseat was piloted among the American Heart Association, the ability to customize and provide guidance rated highly among the AHA pilot users. It also led to some surprising changes in the office. Michelle Nostheide, vice president of marketing and communications for AHA’s mid-Atlantic affiliate, is one pilot user who noted how Hotseat took hold. “I stair climb over to my co-worker’s office,” Nostheide said.
Mobile devices are an increasingly valuable tool for behavior change and influence. However, sustained engagement and long-term efficacy tend to be almost impossible to achieve. Mad*Pow believes a core aspect of this problem is with current applications which leverage cumbersome personal data tracking and informational feedback, along with incessant alerts and nagging requests. Hotseat was created with human motivation and social contexts in mind as a primary focus for intervention design. Exhibiting a design that satisfies core motivational needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness and mapping interactions to personal and social contexts, Hotseat exemplifies how effective software can be created that moves us beyond simple technocratic solutions (like nags and graphic feedback) to applications that motivate, engage and deliver meaningful outcomes for users in the real world.