BUG: The Top Ten Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People

Susan Weinschenk gave an evening talk to the Bristol Usability Group on “The Top Ten Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People“. These are 10 things from her book 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. Below are my highlighted notes:

  • We have 3 brains (new, Mid and Old) which affects our view and reaction to the world.
  • People use their peripheral vision more than their central vision. Eye-tracking may not be as useful as we think as it is our ‘central’ vision – be careful
  • The Fusiform Facial Area describes our facial recognition system. We pay attention to faces, particularly those staring back at us (e.g. images on a website). Uses our mid-brain. Mixing multiple faces is creepy to us – think Tom Hank’s character in The Polar Express.
  • People want choice but too much choice de-motivates us and we choose nothing. The often referenced 7+/- two items (George Miller) that humans remember 7 items, is a myth. It is more like 3-4 items (Nelson Cowan 2001) and we only focus on one thing at a time. Thus limit choice.
  • We tend to design in a way that works for us rather than the users. This confirms that user testing is vital.
  • Understanding mental models is very important so that we don’t just design for ourselves. Our experiences between the ages of 8-12 shape our views for life. The demographic (30-40) are designing most of the UX experiences, yet are the smallest demographic which is a problem.
  • The speaker and listeners brain’s sync ‘speaker-listener neural coupling’ (Stephens, Grey + Husson, U 2010). Hence why video is so powerful as it has movement to grab attention and then the audio allows us to get in sync unlike text.
  • People have ‘weak ties’ of 150+ and ‘strong’ ties of -150 according to Prof Robin Dunbar. Something like Facebook is typically used for fewer people and is an example of a strong tie. Twitter, where people tend to follow larger number of people is an example of a weak tie.
  • Beauty is important to us. Based on research, websites should take advantage of beauty. A site could aim to be clear yet slightly unpredictable. People prefer curves to straight things). Beauty is in the eye of the unconscious, Tractinsky, et al.
  • Story telling is great. The brain processes information best when told a story.
  • Images can tell a story. For example if we hear a story about pain we know we are safe but our brain still acts like we are in pain without the ‘physical’ pain. Singer, T., et al. (2004). Empathy for pain involves the affective but not the sensory components of pain
  • People expect technology to follow human to human interaction.


Understanding user-centred design workshop

Stu Church from Pure Usability ran a full day workshop talking and demonstrating the benefits of a user-centred approach to JISC funded projects. Here are my notes:

  • Project issues include the need to address user-centred design for searching, showing resources and supporting user-contributions to collections.
  • A user-centred process is the key to success and can be applied at all stages of a project (never too late to start!)
  • Benefits include improved credibility, reputation, visits and user happiness
  • ISO 9241-210 – Human-centred design for for interactive systems
  • Key elements include user goals & needs, user research and evaluation
  • Start with your business goals and then see what you can do to make the user experience as great as it can be
  • Have a snappy sentence that you can always refer to about the ‘UX vision’, a great recent example from Mark Boulton ‘A make new mantra: A statement of design intent‘ which for CERN is to “create wonder”
  • Identify user requirements and user stories
  • Rapidly design, prototype an refine
  • Evaluate to get insights and measure performance
  • You can do loads yourself without a professional to get quite far – then get pro’s for the harder pinch-points
  • So what are you waiting for?!





Make expressionengine links work

In Expressionengine, if you want to make a custom field work as a URL / link instead of plain text,  under channel preferences for the required channel ensure ‘Automatically turn URLs and email addresses into links?’ is set to NO.

Otherwise the link on the page will add the URL of the page you are currently on e.g example.com/url-of-custom-field which of course won’ t work.

This catches me out often enough that I need to document it here.

Running report: Forest of Dean Half Marathon 2012

Yesterday, 1st April 2012 I competed and successfully completed my first ever half marathon.

I felt good throughout the race and each step past eleven miles was the furthest i’ve ever run.

My time was 2hr 2mins and 35 sec (the winner was 1hr 14min) and my running partner Stephen managed 1hr 59mins 25 sec – not too shabby !

Having run several pretty tough cross-country races including the Slaughterford 9, I wonder what challenge we’ll attempt next?……