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Chapter 10. Designing for Power > Designing for Politeness

Designing for Politeness

One important implication of the research is remarkably profound: If we want users to like our software, we should design it to behave like a likeable person. If we want users to be productive with our software, we should design it to behave like a good human work mate. Simple, huh?

Nass and Reeves say that software should be “polite” because this is a universal human behavioral trait. (Which actions are considered polite might vary from culture to culture, but the trait is present in all cultures.) Our high-cognitive-friction products should follow this simple lead and also be polite. Many high-tech products interpret politeness to mean that it's okay to behave rudely as long as they say “please” and “thank you,” but that is emphatically not what politeness is all about.


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