Category Archives: 100 things every designer needs to know about people

100 Things every designer needs to know about people

How people see

Wow, I have to say a lot of my preconceptions have been blown away in this chapter alone. I haven’t realized so many things about the human physiology to figure out what it meant to see in our world.

For high school, I did a final project that involved designing out an entire equestrian center. At the center of my research, I focused on how a horse sensed the world. By understanding how they sensed, I tried to anticipate what they would prefer. I discovered that a great deal can be assumed simply by knowing how a horse sees, smells, or hears.

Why didn’t I apply this same logic to humans? Despite being one, I never really focused on the senses of others. I feel I know mine well enough, but I didn’t really think about them. This chapter opened a lot of interesting ideas and thoughts.

I think some of the things that surprised me were also ‘duh’ moments. For instance, we see in 2D. It is our stereoscopic vision that gives the sensation of seeing in 3D. This was kind of one of those duh moments. I also found it interesting when they were discussing peripheral vision. This was a trick that I learned from astronomy, but never really thought more about why that worked. Now it makes complete and total sense.

Another interestingly simple concept is the canonical perspective. When we envision things, we generally view them at the same angle. Considering this is how we see most things, it makes absolute sense that that would the first form of an image to show up.

I can go on to say similar things about colors having different meanings in cultures. I can see why you asked that question in a few classes back when we had a similar discussion. While I’m willing to believe that there are certain colors that influence us on a physiological level, I really had thought the colors would stay consistent throughout the world. I’ll have to take these thoughts with a grain of thought and really consider what I’m doing.

Finally, I totally failed the gorilla video test. It is shocking to not notice something like that. But then, I’ve had exactly the same sort of experience with refreshing a website. More often than that, The website changes faster then I can notice and continue to stare waiting for the page to change when it already had.

I felt that this book did a better job of explaining affordances and inattention bias. The example video was pretty powerful.

This chapter has me really reconsidering the design of my website. I find myself in conflict with many of the recommendations that this book made. I figured that was the case, and that I would have to redo things later.

  • How can you use bad affordances and inattention bias to create a good web design?
  • Knowing now that colors are not necessarily rooted in human psychology, how much to you still believe in the color concepts you believed in?

How people think

Once again, I’m taken aback. Some of them again were moments that I already knew but never connected. So far this book has exceeded my expectations in being clearly informative.

I have encountered a few of these notions as a manager. Cognitive Dissonance is a strong one. Not only at my work sites, but in the world at large. If anything, it is probably the single biggest disorder that the American culture suffers at this time. We are more willing to hold fast to the wrong or uncertain idea rather than concede that there is information out there that conflicts with the information you already have. This is a serious issue, and creates ignorance and denies empathy.

Cognitive loads is another concept that I have encountered. It is something that I have unconsciously measured when I work with associates. I discover the effective load that a person can handle and change how I work with them accordingly. Another aspect is the story telling or narrative concept. I use this a great deal when I’m training. It is a method of teaching that the native tribes relied on for their cultures. By telling a story, the listeners are more likely to connect to the ideas that you are trying to express. By creating this connection, you can draw the people to your ideas. By combining the storytelling with the concept of learning from examples, you add on a two-fold powerful combination.

Something that I did learn from when I was working on Dark Haggis was the concept of data entry. I had to develop a form to enter data from the list of abstracts into our database. I had designed it to start off with using the keyboard to enter submission numbers and user names. Then had the user switch to a mouse to copy and paste data from the PDF into the last two form fields. I had already considered using the concept of minimizing motor switching long before I had learned about it. I had thought of it from the concept of ergonomics.

When designing a future interface, you are intending on breaking the mold of what is the traditionally held cultural model. In your newly created interface method, how would you choose to train and adapt people to your new conceptual model?

  • How often do you find your mind wandering?
  • Does the availability of social communications provide more opportunity for your mind to wander?

What Motivates people

If I thought that the previous chapters were a treasure trove of managerial techniques, this one takes it all. As a manager, Motivating people is a very difficult thing to do. Everyone works a little differently, and there is this thing called a budget. When I looked over the headings for this section, I was hoping to find something that had to do with social interactions. I didn’t see it there, but there was an allusion to it to another chapter.

I like to think that I’ve become a very good manager over my career. Much of the tactics are founded on observations and an understanding of individual goals. However, there are generic methods in which you can apply to a group of people in general.

This chapter seems to reinforce a basic concept that I’ve held. Allow people to do the task the way they want to. Yes, I’ll suggest better ways of doing it, and be exemplifying it for them, but ultimately it is up to the person. So long as the job was completed correctly in the end. This chapter seems to confirm the notion. Variable rewards or no suggested rewards allow the person to be fueled by their own inner drives. If you attempt to award the behavior, or hint that there is a reward, the work will end up not satisfying the expectations.  This confirms the concept of autonomy driving motivation.

I enjoyed the chapter concerning blaming people for their behaviors rather then their situation. This is something that I am activily aware of all the time, and vocally voice a differing opinion of the situation. It is mostly triggered when the person I’m next to says something about what just happened. I had a completely diffrent, and just as plausible explanation in my mind. I speak up and give them an ‘or they….’. It is interesting when the notion of a different explanation sinks in and their facial expression changes. I agree with the author, this is a very difficult thing to break from.

Again with management concepts. Habits are definitely hard to change. This was something that I had discovered in my first kitchen. I was working with an elderly lady who had a very specific way that was taught to her a long time ago. Despite changes in the food program, she still did it the older way. This was a situation where I had to apply very patient and incremental change over time. If I had tried to force her to change twenty things at once, it wouldn’t have worked. It was better to focus on the things that needed to be corrected one at a time and encourage and identify when it was done correctly. Using this approach I could change her habits and made progress to getting her one the updated program.

Dopamine is a very powerful and triggerable chemical for driving a person. It is not something that I have done much research on to figure out how to trigger it. I had never even considered being able to trigger it myself until this moment.

Are there ways that you can actively and dynamically trigger dopamine levels to motivate people on the spot?

  • Would driving dopamine production be a form of mind control? \
  • Do you feel that you are a victim of these tactics?
  • How can you protect yourself from dopamine triggers?
  • If caught in a dopamine loop, and you realize that you are in one, how can you use it?