Driving User Behavior in Unexpected Ways

In the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, the urinals have flies in them.

human form interaction in airport urinal

Source: http://www.urinal.net/schiphol/

It’s not a real fly, of course, but an image of a fly etched into the porcelain.

human form interaction urinal

Source: http://www.urinal.net/schiphol/

According to data collected by Hoax-Slayer.com, the fly is placed in the “sweet spot” that reduces splashing from the urine stream. Men instinctively aim for the fly (for fun? to wash it down the drain? for target practice?) and it keeps the bathroom cleaner.

The fly in the urinal appears to be a clever way to drive user behavior in an indirect way. Is it more effective than a sign above the urinal that says, “Watch where you aim. Keep the floors clean.”? I don’t know. But it’s certainly a lot more interesting.

What are other ways interface designers can take advantage of natural human tendencies? What’s the web equivalent of the urinal fly?


  1. Andreas says:

    The web equivalent of the urinal fly? Maybe Twitter? Since you aim for that ONE sentence and so keep the web cleaner..

    Seeing the picture, I imagined a box design where you piss into a tiny hole and the splashes remain in the box. That seems more effective and elegant than getting people to hit one sweet spot to lessen the dirt a little bit.

  2. JillT says:

    Victorians used a bee not a fly – just for the visual pun (Apis = honey bee)

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