Behaviour sets and stories

The Moleagle is comfortable with zoomed-out strategic thinking and they love to dig down into the detail too. I’ve described how taking a zoomed out view as you consider a Primary mode of information seeking helps you understand the core of your information offerOnce you’ve identified your Primary mode you can move a little lower towards the details that will help you design. You’re probably most like a squirrel at this stage – moving up and down with ease – looking for acorns that could grow into the cores that will support your model.

Behaviour sets

Consider and decide which Behaviour sets within each Mode apply to your audience. These sets are closer to actual user experiences and the stories we tell about them. They allow you to think in more practical terms about the specific behaviours and needs that you need to support. So it should be easy to relate these directly to your audience and imagine and describe how they relate to your product or service.

You might find that you need to support all three sets in your primary mode – but that’s not guaranteed. Consider the sets and judge how well they describe the behaviour of your audience. If you have personas or other design research, use this to judge how realistic each set of behaviours feel.

This movement down the model to more specificity is the key to building something useful to designers and information architects. Each Behaviour set is made up of individual behaviours. A behaviour is more specific than the set – it might describe a specific interaction or step in a task, process or experience. As you do more work using the model you should be able to relate specific needs and behaviours to the features and design patterns within your product and service.

Primary mode - Behaviour sets - Behaviours - Pattern or Feature

If a user has chosen to do some ‘transactional searching’ (part of the Motivated movement mode) they’ll likely work through the same linear progression of behaviours each time. Transactional search is usually made up of Search term construction, Evaluation, Sweeping, Differentiation – you might see Refinement/Optimisation, Movement and Satisfaction too. When you understand your product and the behaviours involved in information seeking you should be able to answer a ‘How might we’ (or How do we) question for each behaviour or need.

How do you support each of the behaviours that your audience perform?

Considering secondary modes

Behaviour sets are more specific than Modes, so it’s easier to use these as a way of considering Secondary modes that you need to consider. Your primary mode should help provide a North Star for you and colleagues when you discuss the flavour and feel of your navigation offer overall – they tell you what type of product or service you have in terms of information-related tasks. But you need to fill out your model to make sure you’re supporting all the significant information-related tasks that your audience have. Adding secondary modes and all relevant behaviour sets to your model of navigation helps you cover the edges as well as the core.


And in the interests of making your model useable and as complete as possible, you might like to consider building your own behaviour set or story. Maybe there’s a specific and important set of behaviours that your audience regularly perform. Do you have a new episode added to a popular series every month? Does your audience regularly interrupt their experience and return? Are experiences spread experiences across multiple devices? Or do your audience need to compare lots of sources at one time?

My model is fairly generic – it’s designed to be useful across the widest range of contexts. But it might be that you can make it more valuable by using the same framework and developing your own story/set or even your own vocabulary of behaviours.

If you decide to do this then keep your vocabularies sensible and controlled – if you want help then please get in touch.

Your goal is to build a map that describes your primary and secondary modes and begins to lay out the individual behaviours that your product or service needs to support. This will enable you to begin to design and evaluate how you meet the information needs of your audience and spot opportunities for improvement.

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One response to “Behaviour sets and stories”

  1. […] at the BBC. But I’m not sure the model I proposed is as useful as I’d hoped for the service-design based toolset I began describing here. So, I’ve done some more thinking and have another way of describing information related […]

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