GitHub has been seeding new features and flows with selected users and then—once the user has had an opportunity to get familiar with them—they take them away.

From Chris Dannen’s Fast Company interview with Chrissie Brodigan:

Our parents give us toys and we enjoy them and then something happens and they take them away. Deprivation studies actually happen a lot in real life, right? People are always experimenting with things or you might try let’s say, a new type of olive oil, and then you run out of it, and you might have some other olive oil in your house, but you’re really disappointed, because you really miss that new olive oil.

On the deprivation testing process:

On day one, change is always hard. But after a few days, users start to get used to their new surroundings—and then you take those new surroundings away from them. On that last day, we consider that the actual deprivation study: you are putting the old thing that they were used to back in front of them. Then you measure the emotion around those three days of changes. Are they disappointed to have the old thing? Do they miss the new thing?


When you do not have access to the thing that you need, you actually end up learning a lot and you learn a lot about what are the habits that people form, and the emotional response around that.

Lots more in the full interview with GitHub’s Chrissie Brodigan.