What web designers and mobile app developers need to know about people 

A few months back, I told you about a website that irritated me quite a bit. I was doing some research for a white paper internationalization at the time and was directed to a page with a black background and a large block of content in fine red font. I really wanted to read the content, so ended up cutting and pasting it into a word doc and enlarging it. The author had some interesting points to make, but his style was full of sarcasm and jargon and I just had to give up. So much for a user friendly website design.

Since I’m in the business of creating content that I want people to read, learn from and share, I wanted to find out more about the psychology of user experience design (UX Design). A web designer friend recommended the book 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Dr. Susan Weinschenk, who has been applying psychology to the design of technology for 30 years. The book combines real science and research with practical examples of how people react and interact with technology and has been my go to reference book for UX design. 

Artist watercoloring a design

But technology, as we all know, is growing and changing, and so is our understanding of the brain. Design challenges and opportunities have emerged.

No one understands this better that than Dr. Weinschenk. Her new book, 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People applies the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, brain research, and social psychology to the design of technology products, including websites, apps, wearables, and artificial intelligence.

The book is not just another “design guidelines” book. It explains the why behind the guidelines, providing concrete examples and prescriptions that can be easily and instantly applied. I don’t know about you, but I find UX design concepts easier to follow and remember if I know why they work.

The 100 more things are divided into 11 Sections, making the book easy to navigate, and include:

  1. How People See
  2. How People Think and Remember
  3. How People Decide
  4. How People Read and Interpret Information
  5. How People are Influenced by Stories
  6. How People Relate to Other People and Technology
  7. How Creativity Influences Design
  8. How People’s Bodies Affect Design
  9. How People Shop and Buy
  10. How Generations, Geography and Gender Influence Design
  11. How People Interact with Devices and Technology

I learned in the first book, for example, the importance of stories, as people’s brain processes information best in story form. In 100 MORE things, Dr. Weinschenk describes the elements of an effective story, which are not as obvious as you might think. “If you want people to be engaged and pay attention to your design and your message, use a story. And for maximum attention, introduce tension into the story.”

After all, what good is a story without tension? (This story, from a New York Times Blog, is and excellent example of TENSION),

What about Storyboards?

“If you want your audience to buy into your plan or design, then treat your storyboard like a story. Build in tension to grab and hold the audience’s attention. In the storyboard, show the problem, danger, or hope of the target audience, build the tension quickly, and then resolve it with your design.”

Other interesting design facts that Susan Weinschenk deconstructs in here book:

  • How we read online is different than how we read text on a page. Put your most important information before the 60 percent point of the article.
  • Our unconscious processes big data better than our conscious mind does, and we can actually use something called sensory addition to feed data to the unconscious.
  • Our peripheral vision decides where our central vision should look.
  • People make decisions based on specific memories, so during a design session, ask people about specific memories and experiences with products or services in the past that match the products or services they’re deciding on.
  • When people feel connected, they work harder. They work better and longer, and enjoy it more.

No more spoilers…except that the 93rd thing on Dr. Weinschenk’s list was one that truly rang true for me and as already contributed to my content and design strategy.

Order 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People here.

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