What is Anticipatory Design?
The term “anticipatory design” is getting traction recently to denote a form of design of products and services that make decisions on behalf of the user automatically without much need of user input. Anticipatory goes way beyond personalization to eliminate needless choice. (This term has been used before, as Mike Kuniavsky notes, to describe many different things.)
One of the proponents of Anticipatory Design in its current meaning is Aaron Shapiro, CEO of the agency Huge Inc., who wrote about how this approach is different than traditional design:
Anticipatory design is fundamentally different: decisions are made and executed on behalf of the user. The goal is not to help the user make a decision, but to create an ecosystem where a decision is never made — it happens automatically and without user input. The design goal becomes one where we eliminate as many steps as possible and find ways to use data, prior behaviors and business logic to have things happen automatically, or as close to automatic as we can get.
Take booking a flight as an example. Rather than being given options — airline, time, seat location — an anticipatory approach would be to automatically monitor the user’s calendar, and book a ticket when a meeting is scheduled in a location that requires air travel. Seat preference, preferred airlines, the decision between price and a specific flight time are all based on prior travel behavior and payment information can be electronically transmitted.
Aaron Shapiro — The Next Big Thing In Design? Less Choice
Through the use of clever algorithms or artificial intelligence it is now possible to make a choice on behalf of the users (based on the prior knowledge about their needs and behavior).
Less choice in a world so overloaded with information is good, but is no choice at all desirable? I don’t think so. In my opinion the future of Anticipatory Design are autonomous agents, or personal assistants, working in the background, analyzing users data, and offering right choices to the users at the right time, when probably needed. We can call them deamons.