Wednesday, September 11, 2013

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People [Book Review]

Weinschenk, Susan, M (2011) 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People. New Riders: Berkeley, CA.

While this book is intended for web designers, it's a fascinating window onto recent brain research and what it says about humans, interesting tidbits that have much wider implications. For example:

Consider the implications of communicating climate change in the light of €œcognitive dissonance denial— The more uncertain you are of your position, the more likely you will defend your point of view. You can be forced to change beliefs (eg, forced to debate the opposite side) but otherwise, the more people try to push a different point of view, the more you will dig in. 

But the €˜third person effect shows that while we think others are more easily influenced, we are not.

Consider the effect of electronic gadgets. Unpredictable messaging like Twitter is addictive because of dopamine. We are wired for surprise. Flow state requires focused attention so does this mean that people who multitask are prevented from enjoying flow?

Consider the effect of attention and working memory on presentations and training. The old guideline of people being able to hold 7 things in working memory is an urban myth. It's more like 3-4. And people can only pay attention for about 7-10 minutes, and only if they are interested. 

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