Nudge Theory

Wikipedia/Nudge Theory 

Nudge is a concept in behavioural science, political theory and economics which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behavior and decision making of groups or individuals. Nudging contrasts with other ways to achieve compliance, such as education, legislation or enforcement. The concept has influenced British and American politicians. Several nudge units exist around the world at the federal level (UK, Germany, Japan and others) as well as at the international level (OECD, World Bank, UN).

Nudges are small changes in environment that are easy and inexpensive to implement. Several different techniques exist for nudging, including defaults, social proof heuristics, and increasing the salience of the desired option.

A default option is the option an individual automatically receives if he or she does nothing. People are more likely to choose a particular option if it is the default option.For example, Pichert & Katsikopoulos found that a greater number of consumers chose the renewable energy option for electricity when it was offered as the default option.

A social proof heuristic refers to the tendency for individuals to look at the behaviour of other people to help guide their own behaviour. Studies have found some success in using social proof heuristics to nudge individuals to make healthier food choices.

When an individual’s attention is drawn towards a particular option, that option will become more salient to the individual, and he or she will be more likely to choose to that option. As an example, in snack shops at train stations in the Netherlands, consumers purchased more fruit and healthy snack options when they were relocated next to the cash register.


US Imprints 

Aim for the Fly

The urinal fly nudge is a well known mind hack that originated at the Amsterdam airport, but can now be seen in urinals all over the globe. By having images of flies etched near the drains of the bathroom urinals, spillage on the bathroom floor was reduced by 80%

A picture of a urinal fly

Dollar a Day

he Dollar a day program is an ambitious program established in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1990, with other cities experimenting with the program since. The program aims to decrease the rate of teenage births by focusing on decreasing the rate of further pregnancies in teenage mothers.

Because the payment is recurring, it serves as constant encouragement for young mothers to take necessary steps to avoid another pregnancy, while also posing the potential to decrease taxpayer spending (the state spent $392 million on teen childbirths in 2008). The state’s peak birth rate in teens is down 55% from what its high in 1991, and part of that is significant decrease can be credited to a program based off of nudging behaviour.

Opt Out Organ Donation 

Wales has recently joined a list of countries which now require citizens to opt out of becoming an organ donor. This small change has led to huge increases in the availability to organs for those who require transplants. The scheme is simple and ingenious as it places only a small demand on those who wish to stay off the organ donor registry, they simply indicate their wish to be removed from the list. But the greatest loss for those who need new organs has always been those who may well be happy to give their organs but have never bothered to opt in. That step has now been removed and countries that have instituted this new system have reported far higher availability of donor organs.

Croatia’s Musical Stairs 

I was made aware of this invention by my lecturers who used it as an example of behaviour change by nudging. The idea is very simple, there is a new incentive to take the stairs (the healthy option) over the escalator (the sedentary option)  and thus, the use of the stairs as a percentage of pedestrian traffic, increases dramatically.

My Thoughts 

These nudges represent a core concept I was to take full advantage of in my project. I’ve learned first hand how unlikely a person is to make a long term lifestyle change if the disruption to them is more than absolutely minimal. I’ve had friends ask for gym training and decide to go four times a week before giving it up in a fortnight because it’s too hard and disruptive to their day to day life. It only remains for me to find a way of implementing this directly into my campaign with my own examples of Nudge Theory.


Visual Story Telling Brief

We have been asked to create a narrative through visual story telling on any subject we choose. The idea is to create a visual piece that uses a systematic approach to convey statistics or other forms of information.

There are numerous forms of visual information we use on a daily basis without even taking conscious notice of them.


  • Street SignsImage result for uk street signs

The world is full of street signs, many countries have their own approach to these signs, but all of them follow a theme. They all revolve around the use of isotype.  Isotype is a means of communicating simple messages in a visual form that is more universally recognized than text. Visual representations of the message are created to quickly bring to mind the subject matter and allow those who see the symbol to react accordingly.

One reason Isotype is used so universally in road networks is to allow people internationally to comprehend their meaning.without having to understand the language. While many signs include some text, they are designed to be comprehensible regardless of this.


The term hieroglyphics refers to a system of writing using ancient Egyptian symbols. The hieroglyphics involved a series of ‘picture’ words. Consisting of several hundred words, this system of writing was intensely complex and very labor intensive. The first hieroglyphics were used on buildings and tombs. It is believed that the Egyptians first began developing this system of writing about 3000 BC.

Similar to istype, hieroglyphs were ancient examples of using pictures as language. They would represent actions or events and tell a story in a linear fashion.


Wingdings is somewhat of a phenomenon as it is a commonly available typeface that consists of seemingly random symbols in place of alphabetical letters.

‘In the early ’90s, it was one of the first times people realized fonts could break through to the mainstream. One of the creators of Wingdings, Charles Bigelow, of the legendary design studio Bigelow & Holmes, told me Wingdings marked one of the first times a font became part of the popular culture.’

‘As a means of writing sentences, Wingdings fails — but that was never its purpose. It was created to be used as a unique tool for the pre-internet era. It was akin to emojis, but with even more utility.’

‘Today it’s easy to cut and paste images from the internet, but it used to be a lot harder. There were few ways to get images, files were way too large for puny hard drives, and they were of poor quality. Even worse, it was tough to get pictures to play nicely with text. Fonts like Wingdings provided a workaround by giving people high-quality, scalable images that didn’t clog up their hard drives.’

Wingdings then, is not much good for story telling of any kind. Unless, it seems, you are a conspiracy theorist. In my research I found an odd story regarding Wingdings and the events in New York on September 11th, 2001 or 9/11.

According to some, the Wingdings font predicted the events of that day. This theory comes from the fact that if you type Q33NY in Wingdings it will turn them into images that seem to relate to the events. It’s clear to me that this is very dubious. But the story seems to have gripped many people and as far as stories telling goes, this story made a large impact on people.



Pet Portraits

This blog is primarily a tool to enable me to record my learning process as I progress through my university course. One aspect of that, for me. Has been to take on design work outside of work parameters in order to improve my skills. 

Over the past months I have been working to build a pet portraiture business in order to help pay my way while I study. Although it does not strictly come udner the rubric of Graphic Design, it has always been a hobby.

Illustration has allowed me to visualise work before attempting to recreate it digitally. I’ve never posted about my portraiture work before. But I feel it is relevant to my practice, so why not? 

I was commissioned to draw a Weimeraner called ‘Blue Bell’ as a Christmas gift for a client. I was given free reign to select my favourite image from a great number. 

Bkue Bell the Weimaraner

This was my favourite image. I like to capture dogs looking composed and relaxed. I also was happy with the lighting, it is natural and comes from one distinct source. 

Stage On

I always work entirely free-hand, I find that although it is never truly faithful tot he image, I manage to capture the likeness of the subject and add my own twist. Who wants a photorealistic portrait agent hey already have the photo? 

Stage Two

Once the basic shape is refined to my liking I begin to add the darkest shadows first. 

Stage Three

I begin building layers of shade and texture into the picture, I do patches alla cross the body instead of completing it section by section to ensure I don’t have disparity in contrast or  shading. 

Stage Four

I continue to add further detail,each breed is different, some longer rhaired dogs require a lot of detailing in the fur as it has irregularities. But Blue Bell is beige and short haired which made things easier. 

Finished Piece

Each portrait takes several hours, start to finish, but I always enjoy the process. I think people interpret so much expression is dogs faces, so capturing that is very important. 

Making my Mark

In our recent brief to create 100 marks or logos to represent our unique design practice, I learnt a great deal about what works and what doesn’t.

 Our pieces were awarded points by other students who each had six stickers to award. Three blue for professional execution and three orange for creativity and communication. There are more details of this in a previous post of mine. 

I had three or four designs of my 100 which received some awards, which I was very surprised by. If these I chose my personal favourite and decided to further refine the idea, refinement not being an option during the brief owing to the shear volume of work demanded. 

#85 The Wave

This piece was a personal favourite of mine so I’m glad someone shared my feeling. I’ve since done some sketching to advance this design and I’ve explored numerous variations. 

As you can see from the image, I was still open to any kind of alterations. The only consistent theme is clear geometry and a wave as the central theme. I feel that this is personal to me because I have always lived costally and been an avid surfer and lover of water sports of all kinds. 

I have two main lines of design going forward. They are marked in each stage by a letter for the design avenue and a number for the stage of design. 

‘A’ Series

The ‘A’ series follows most closely to the original sketch in the 100 marks project. I wanted a wave which emerges seemlessly from the circle in which is sits, that comes to a sharply defined point in the centre. 

Using a series of handdrawn geometric shapes, I aimed to give the mark the cleanest finish I could. I also settled on clean, clearly defined lines throughout with no texturing or complexity to allow the image to be shrunk and still be recognisable. 

‘B’ Series

Both series were designed in tandem and simply labelled afterwards to define them. With the ‘B’ series I was aiming to experiment with the use of negative space. Clean and simple is great, but a wave is just a wave. There are numerous brands which already feature this and I was worried I’d become one among many. 

I decided to create a logo with two waves opposite and the reverse one another, within a geometric shape which would be filled and leave the waves outstanding in negative space. This had the added benefit of creating an interesting shape in the centre that at first glance seems random until you realise it is a set of waves. 

Trying to make this logo implicitly oceanic rather than simple and explicit was a goal of mine. I wanted it to have depth and character. I think this design did a fairly good job at that and so I’m planning on moving to the next step and digitising it in Adobe Illustrator. 

Here are my two most advanced designs to date. Each is handdrawn to a greater degree or accuracy and detail. I will likely also digitise the ‘A’ series design at a later date. 

Designing with Adobe Illustrator

In our meetings, our group decided that we’d split the animating workload evenly with each of us doing approximately 15 seconds each. I asked to do the introductory 15 seconds. To do this I had only Laura’s character which she had made in preparation. We would all need the model to insure our work would be uniform.

Emily Frontback of Emily

Here is the model of Emily that Laura designed in Illustrator through consultation with the group. We each had a copy of the project to use when we animated independently. We aimed for a sensible character with a large expressive face and features that would suggest her to be a young teenager. She needed to be taken seriously but be young and represent the most vulnerable users of the internet in society. Old enough to be active online, but young and naive of the risks.

shitty desk space
#1 Bedroom 

Here was a quick mock up of the room Emily would be occupying. It’s quite obvious that I’m less than stellar at using Adobe Illustrator but it was useful to have everyone on the same page about the rough design.

With Laura’s help we adjusted and refined the design and improved the colour scheme.

desk space
#2 Bedroom 

This was a far neater and more sorted model using the bones of the original. The colour scheme is far cleaner and makes Emily the center of attention with her bright red heavily contrasted against the blue/green surroundings.

Emily at Desk
Emily at the desk

It took far longer than I’d like to admit to seat Emily at the desk. The layer system is the same as Adobe Photoshop. However the controls are vastly different and more complex. We also had issues of page dimensions. As you can see the original sat within the green box. I had to change the canvas size and widen the background to compensate for this.


Here is my first frame in its completed form. The minimal movement was a symptom of my lack of ability with Adobe After Effects. This will be less obvious as I progress through the project. I wasn’t able to hear audio in the After Effects preview, so, thinking on my feet, I downloading VideoPad Video Editor and inserted my rendered footage to add the audio. I will attempt to recreate it in my own time at a later date. I have had several big ideas that were too late coming to be used and I’d love to try to animate them.


The emojis were tricky to design, but I felt they were really important. They are copies of the official Facebook angry face emojis which was very intentional. Facebook has spent huge resources on developing a brand which makes them and their designs immediately recognisable to most. In particular, millennials. In using this method, huge amounts of the work of conveying a message visually has been done for me.

Animating with Adobe FX

In a recent tutorial we were given our first instruction on using Adobe FX (After Effects). This was to prepare us for our animation project in which we would create a 45-60 second short video. Until this point I had felt confident that it would be a relatively simple endeavor.

Here’s the video. It was a joy to build this piece for scratch. Although the work requires infuriating levels of precision to avoid catastrophic errors, it is deeply satisfying to slowly build up a video and call it my own work. The layering system is in principle, the same as in Photoshop and Illustrator which is very helpful.

This was my first experience animating anything at all. But knowing the complexity of the process, building endless layers and having to watch the same couple of seconds of footage over and over to ensure it all plays in harmony and no one’s limbs fly off, I feel like I have a lot to learn. Adobe FX is vastly more complex than other Software I have used so far and must mean it has far more potential uses.



Cyber Bullying Research

Since changing groups, my topic research up to now is somewhat irrelevant. My new group is working on a piece exploring Cyber Bullying and raising awareness of the issue. To be a productive team player I will need more information about the subject and that’s the point of this post.

Bullying and Cyber Bullying

Bullying is behaviour that hurts someone else – such as name calling, hitting, pushing, spreading rumours, threatening or undermining someone. It can happen anywhere – at school, at home at work or online. It’s usually repeated over a long period of time and can hurt a child both physically and emotionally.

Bullying that happens online, using social networks, games and mobile phones, is often called cyberbullying. A child can feel like there’s no escape because it can happen wherever they are, at any time of day or night.

Bullying is an issue faced by young people and adults alike. But children are often far less autonomous and can feel they have less  control or recourse. A child spends 5 days a week in school, the majority of the people they see are school piers, if they suffer in school then it can feel as though they are trapped.

NSPCC (link)

  • There were over 25,700 Childline counselling sessions with children about bullying last year. (2016)
  • Over half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people have experienced homophobic bullying at school
  • More than 16,000 young people are absent from school due to bullying
  • There were over 11,000 counselling sessions with young people who talked to Childline about online issues last year

Children aged 11-16 on social media

Researchers conducted an online self-completion survey in December 2012 of 1,024 11-16 year olds in the UK.

  • 28% of children aged 11-16 with a profile on a social networking site had experienced something upsetting on it in the last year
  • Of the children and young people who were upset, 11% were dealing with upsetting experiences on a daily basis
  • The most reported issue experienced on social networking sites was trolling, experienced by 37% of children who had been upset.
  • Other issues experienced by children who had been upset included: pressure to look or act a certain way (14%), cyber stalking (12%), aggressive and violent language (18%), encouragement to hurt themselves (3%), receiving unwanted sexual messages (12%), and requests to send or respond to a sexual message (8%).
  • Over half of 11-16 year olds (58%) believed at least one of the people responsible for the behaviour which had upset or bothered them was either a complete stranger, someone they only knew online, or they did not know who it was at all.
  • Only 22% of the children who were upset talked with someone else face to face about the experience.

What children have said of their experiences with bullying

Published 2016. Bullying has been among the most visited subject by NSPCC callers since 1989.

  • Bullying is the second most common reason for boys and the third most common reason for girls to contact Childline. It makes up 9 per cent of all counselling sessions
  • Bullying is the most common reason for children aged 11 and under to contact Childline; almost 1 in 4 sessions with this age group
  • Physical bullying is the top bullying concern for children aged 11 and under; peer pressure is top for 12–15 year olds and online bullying for 16–18 year olds.
  • Bullying affects academic performance and is linked to mental and physical health problems. 1/4 children is counselling sessions talked about mental health concerns

Article suggesting girls are twice as likely to be cyber bullied than boys. (Survey by ‘What about YOUth’ organiation)

Swansea girl committed suicide after being bullied on Snapchat and Facebook

A quarter of teenagers suffered online abuse in the past year. (Article posted 2016)