–”100 things every designer needs to know about people” 2011, by Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D.–
I am not a visual designer and my background doesn’t support design. When I did choose to read the book “100 things every designer needs to know about people”, I decided to read it from the perspective of an aspiring Interactive Media Manager. I thought, that this book might help me, how to shepherd users throughout my application or site to take the desired action. I have to say, that I received more than I expected. I could relate each piece of information to my experience.The book is giving great insight about, how you can design user experience by using the psychology of design. The book analyzes like in a BuzzFeed, in 100 steps how people see, read, remember, think, focus their attention, feel, decide, get motivated and make mistakes.My reading journey was full of discoveries. Many times I found myself, asking:
I started to read the book with a big curiosity. I recognised that “diversity” is a crucial element of design. Did you know, that there is a special part of the brain outside the visual cortex whose sole purpose is recognising faces Fusiform Face Area (FFA)? The book talks about the research by Karen Pierece(2001) proving, that people with autism don’t use FFA, but they use regular pathways, which are normally used for object recognition. It reminds me, the first day of Interactive Media Industry class, our instructor said, that she cannot identify faces when she is walking in the hallway. Interestingly related!
Another interesting fact about diversity is that most of the color genes are on the X chromosome and because men have one X chromosome and women have two, men are more likely to experience color vision problems than women. In addition to that, an important advice of the book on page 26, is that there are some websites, you can use to check, how your website will appear to someone with color blindness. E.g www.vischeck.com.
On page 28, the book gives also perfect insight, how to embrace cultural diversity on your designs. It advises to pick some target cultures and check them on www.informationisbeautiful.net to avoid unintended color associations for these cultures.
Takeaway 2: Embrace diversity in your design. If you forget about it, it is almost guaranteed you are going to fail.
Throughout my reading, surprisingly, I recognized a pattern in the book. Let me share with you, what is this:
When I reached the section called “How people remember”, the book was advising not to ask people to remember information from one place to another, because short-term memory is limited. Wait a minute! Is it not similar to “recognition rather than recall” rule of Heuristics, that we learned? By the way, Heuristics are rules of thumb to evaluate interaction design.
I kept reading and saw a second coincidence: The book talked about that people have mental models of what they want to see and where they want to see it. Is this finding not related to “consistency and standards” rule which says, that if people cannot see the things, where they need them intuitively to see, they get confused. I kept continuing. In the next section it is explaining that people act according mental models. “Mental model” is a person’s understanding of the surrounding world and in the field of design, a mental model refers to representation of the real world. Is this not another way of saying “System should match the real world.”? I started to discover, that the book is explaining the psychological basis behind the Heuristics. Another tip about human psychology, that I could associate with Heuristics was “recognition rather than recall”. On page 80 of the book, I met another link to Heuristics: It is explaining that people learn better by examples. The “help and documentation” rule of user experience is directly linked to this. And here comes another one : I feel like I am solving the mystery of the book! “People are more motivated as they get closer to goal.” Does is not explaining “visibility rule”? In my opinion it explains totally, why we have bars on our web sites showing up, that our request is under process.
I kept reading the book and the more I found pieces of information of Heuristics, the more the book started to have a story for me. And then I met the other rule hidden in the 55th tip. People are motivated by control.” Is this not explaining the rule of “user control and freedom”? When I reached towards the end of the book I was sure that next I was going to find another Heuristics rule and here it comes: “People will always make mistakes.” and “People make predictable types of errors.” which made me to think about “Error prevention.” As 40th tip of the book also mentions maybe my attention was selective, but I could figure out that the book is based on Heuristics without mentioning any of them.
Takeaway 3: Use Heuristics Rules for , whatever you design. These rules are based on solid facts about human psychology.
This book is not talking just about Heuristics. It is full of other interesting facts. Do you know what “mind wandering” is? It is different from day dreaming. Mind wandering refers to doing one task and then fading into thinking about something unrelated to that task. It is stated that minds wander 30% of the time. The article advices using hyperlinks to switch from topic to topic which allows mind wandering. Really? I didn’t thought about the hyperlinks before as an enabler of mind wandering. It’s exciting!
I am very happy, that I did choose specifically this book to read. It is like an approval what we learned until now in IMMT Program. 33rd tip of the book is:”People process information best in story form.” This explains, why we are looking for a story in everything we are doing in this program. Takeaway 3: Explain everything in a story: it helps you to organize your information in a chronological order and such creates a causation.
Last but not least, t I was so excited when reading this book. It says that there is the “strong tie”group size limit which is 150 people. Recently, I read about the same information in the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yual Novah Harari . 150 is the number for your survival community in close proximity. If you feel, you don’t have this tribe around you, you may feel isolated. This relations made me to “mind wander”: Is this the reason that Facebook is successful? This book helped me to question facts from different angles.
Takeaway 4: “Read 100 things every designer needs to know about people by Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D” !