“100 Things Every Designer needs to know about people” and 5 things you should remember when designing

booknotes-100thingsInaugurating Book notes section, here you have some notes from a great book  for your UX-library!.

Susan M. Weinschenk has a PhD. in Psychology and it shows, because most of the concept she writes about in his books “100 Things Every Designer need to know about people” came from the Cognitive Science field as psychology, neuroscience, linguistics and some other from Human Factors and Marketing research. The book is oriented to a better understanding of people filling the gaps that normally designers have around human nature from a neuronal, psychological and social point of view.

This is a  extremely easy to read book, very well structure around ten axes that pretend cover a broad spectrum of human being, including cognitive functions as perception, memory, attention, emotion, information processing and decision making and some others more related with psychological and social behaviour.

Susan link each of the points with conclusions directly apply to design. Many of these findings are useful and well known design best practices, other findings however, are weak. Even so, I understand she makes a great effort into translate science papers into concrete and simple principles and that is not easy job. In my opinion some time just there isn’t a direct equation and some points are operable only in combination with others, or in very specific contexts and not allowed for a general view of design best practices.

Nonetheless, this book is a great starting point for any UX professional who lacks a background in cognitive sciences and human factors and I strongly recommend it!.  in my case helped me to remember some of the many papers we have read in the CSIM and I got it new insights from them.

Finally, I agree with Susan that all these 100 points are things any Designer needs to know for sure as we are working for human beings. But  even so, 100 points are too many so I will summarize them in only 5 things you definitely should remember when designing, and here you have it:

  1. Don’t assume people would see what you think they will.  Perception is made on the brain and is ruled and influenced by many phenomena, some of them physicals and neuronal, some other cultural and psychological. You can’t anticipated all them, so focus on follow pattern-perception rules and design conceptual models that match users’ mental models.
    About perception, patterns and expectations. Points 1-18
  2. Remember, human capabilities are limited and people always make mistakes. Tell stories, use anecdotes and examples, split information into small chunks  and don’t take longer than 10 minutes. Design for error!.
    About Understanding and memorability. Points: 19,20,27,34,44,74,85
  3. People are inherently lazy. For people easy is more important than time, but time is more value that money.
    About human nature and behaviour. Points: 57,58,94
  4. Want to keep people motivated?.  You system must allow: socialize, progress, mastery and control, keep a dose of unpredictability. Use variable rewards for maximum behaviour repetition and promote intrinsic and unexpected rewards for a long-term effect in motivation.
    About engagement and motivation. Points: 51,53-55
  5. Most human decisions are unconscious and affected by mood and social validation. Trust is decide in first place based on look and feel (first impression) after that by content and credibility. When people are uncertain, let other decide for him, take action only if other take action and see other people testimonials, or ratings to tell him how to behave.
    About decision making and social influence. Points: 90,91,95,98

Interested? Next you have more notes.

Buy the book  and find more Susan Weinschenk’s interesting research work here.

Content notes:

1. “How people see”: Where  Susan basically focus in research from the visual and perception field. Starting from the basic idea that is not the eye how see but the brain [Point 1 in the book],  and how this visual perception is ruled for some vision-facts and phenomena as: the role of peripheral vision in the understanding of the environment [2], the inattentional blindness [8] that could make us don’t see huge changes when we are paying attention to one thing and the expectations of change are low. Or some perception issues related with color as color-blind [11], chromostereopsis[10], or the fact that colors have different meanings depending on the cultural framework  [12]. Finally, she points how this perception is influenced by how people recognize patterns [3] (faces or objects ), the object perceived affordance [7] and by the user past experiences and expectations [6].
 2.”How people read”: Reading is a high cognitive function, and in this section Susan focus on some research on the human factors fields. You will find references to how humans read with saccades eye movements and using peripheral vision [13], or how we recognize letters using pattern recognition [15], and also Susan give us some practical design tips related with reading as: how the text structure influences reading velocity and comprehension, and why we should use titles and headlines, short line length and appropriated font size and proportion [14, 16,18] or how we can calculate the readability of a text using the  Flesch-Kincaid formula [14].
3.”How people remember”: In this pint make references to many studies related to Memory function. The differences between short-term memory (or working memory) and long-term memory [19], and how some neuronal facts affect human capacity to memory [20], what strategies human use for enhance their memory capacity [21], or a formula that illustrate the degradation of memories (Hermann Ebbinghau’s Forgetting curve) [25]
4.”How people think”: Refer to how people process information, and how to make it better for them using bite-sized chunks of information (progressive disclosure) [27], using categories [34], and story-forms [33].
5. “How people focus their attention”: Attention is a cognitive process that strongly affects other human functions as visual perception [8] or memory, and is itself affected by expectation and frequency [43]. Here Susan refers to the conscious and unconscious nature of attention [42], as well as, how selective attention it is, and how people filter information [40-41].
6.”What motivates people”: One of my favourite sections, based on very interesting science papers that well worth reading. Susan resume the key factors that have a big impact in motivation as progress, mastery and control [55], the effect that different reward strategies have [51,54]. The lazy human nature and how affect human behaviour and decision [57,58,98].
7. “People are social animals”: Some social-psychology insights as how people expect online interaction follow social rules [66] or how big a strong-tie group could be [63].
8.”How people feel”: Some interesting notes like that people feel more positive before and after than during interaction [83], or how more difficult to achieve is something, more people like it [81], and how anecdotes persuade more than data [74] or how people are neuronal programmed to enjoy surprises [76].
9.”People make mistakes”: Many references from human factors research as human always make mistakes [85], some categorization of error by their consequences [87], or how people make predictable errors [88] and human different strategies to correct error [89].
10.”How people decide”: The unconscious nature of decision making [90], how people base in other people decisions or behaviour when are uncertain [98] or how people wants more choices and information they can process because they think choice equals control [92,93].

3 thoughts on ““100 Things Every Designer needs to know about people” and 5 things you should remember when designing

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