“Warm and Fuzzy” Data

Session Title

“Warm and Fuzzy” Data


Stephen Anderson, PoetPainter

Session Type: Presentation

How can we expose data in a way that influences behavior? And which metrics might actually improve how we perform in business, fitness, finances and relationships? (And satisfy business goals as well!)

We’ll start by reviewing systems like Mint, Nike+, Rypple and others that encourage users to reflect on (and modify!) their behavioral patterns. Think personal informatics, feedback loops, sentiment analysis, leaderboards and other forms of reflection available to us. You’ll learn what “works” and what’s just plain fun; what are the natural human behaviors and which of these translate to an online context. Included in this brief tour of cognition will be an examination of how the visual representation of this data influences our choices.

To roll all this together, we’ll look at how these ideas were applied to the design of a business tool that helps people be more accountable to their peers. You’ll get a behind the scenes peek at just how we identified and designed these numeric nudges into the final application (and what we’ve learned since launching).

Topics covered will include how to:
* Spot unseen data points
* Turn written information into data you can work with
* Identify feedback loops worth surfacing
* Use “assumption data” to nudge user engagement
* Distinguish between (and apply) micro and macro level feedback loops
* Represent data and textual information in a visually compelling way
* Make data playful and engaging


Stephen P. Anderson is a product strategy and design consultant who helps large companies create valuable customer experiences.

Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Stephen spent more than a decade growing and leading teams of information architects, interaction designers and UI developers in the creation of all types of interactive experiences, bringing value to clients such as Nokia, Frito-Lay, Sabre Travel Network, and Chesapeake Energy as well as smaller technology startups.

Stephen is passionate about elegant design, remarkable customer experiences and managing maverick teams — topics he loves to write and speak about. In addition to consulting, he is in the process of doing research for a book that will teach businesses how to attract and manage rockstars, superheroes and other misfits.

As time permits, Stephen enjoys sharing his thoughts at


  1. Posted September 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Very interested in seeing how data (as opposed to visual or interactive design) can be connected to human behavior and the psychological and emotional realms.

  2. Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    We don’t talk enough about data (especially as it relates to behavior) in IxD. Yes please.

  3. Posted September 24, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Two great tastes that taste great together: Persuasive Design and Data Visualization. I would love to see this talk.

  4. Amy
    Posted September 24, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I agree with Dan–this is an under-explored topic. I’m very eager to hear Stephen’s thoughts on making data playful and engaging, since I’m accustomed to seeing stakeholders’ eyes glaze over at the mere mention of data.

  5. Posted September 25, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Sounds very interesting. All too often, we simply collect data to produce a desired result. Not analyzing it to derive deeper meaning.

  6. Posted October 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    sounds fun and interesting.