Principles of Design #63 – von Restorff Effect

May 19 2015

The von Restorff effect describes how out memory is more likely to recall noticeably different things than those which are more common. It is a result of the attention that is given to distinctive objects in the environment or within a set of other objects (for example, a list of words or a sequence of events or a series of faces). the effect happens when there is a difference in context (i.e. the contrast between one item and the others surrounding it) or a difference in experience (i.e. an experience clashes with our memory of similar events). It is also known as the isolation effect and the novelty effect. Read more »

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Asian Sensory Experiences (from Admap, April 2015)

May 10 2015

As the marketing world becomes more and more focused on the importance of the senses in branding and marketing, what can it learn from the Asian experience? Is there something about the Asian context that encourages a greater focus on the senses?  And what is different about marketing to the senses in Asia compared with other regions? Read more »

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The Rhythm of Life: The esSense of music

Apr 28 2015

“Music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we so desired”  – Boethius

I have loved music all my life, and visitors often mention my music collection as one of the first things that strikes them. As well as being large, my tastes are quite diverse, and it’s always fascinated me how different music can radically change the mood, both at home and also in the cinema or in a retail outlet.

If you have ever watched a film with and without the musical score you’ll notice a huge difference in the way you react to events on the screen, and music is still often undervalued for its profound effect on how we experience the world. Read more »

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Principles of Design #62 – Chunking

Apr 21 2015

Chunking is the process of combining different units of information into a more limited number of ‘chunks’, in order to make it easier to understand and remember. Our short-term memory is limited, perhaps to 4 pieces of information (rather than the “7″ from the famous paper by George Miller). Although there is some truth in the idea that 7 digit telephone numbers are at the limit of our memory, in reality we typically “chunk” such numbers up into shorter strings of 2, 3 or 4 digits to make them easier to remember. The maximum number of such chunks that can be remembered or processed at any one time is around four (plus or minus one). Most of us can remember a list of five words for up to 30 seconds, but very few of us can remember a list of 10 (without using special memory tricks). Read more »

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Design Methods #29 – Literature Reviews

Apr 07 2015

Although literature reviews are more commonly associated with academic papers, they should also be an integral part of any research or design process. The collection and synthesis of existing knowledge is always the best place to start a project, and can sometimes answer the question or problem without the need for further primary research. Literature reviews help distil information from published sources including previous projects. The objective is not to summarise everything that is known, but rather to synthesise information and inform the present project with the wisdom of the past.

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Making Sense of Smell

Mar 16 2015

In Jakobson’s Organ, Lyall Watson lays out the primal power of smell, showing that it not only helps us detect the difference between good food and bad food, but can also diagnose disease, detect danger, identify relatives and follow menstrual cycles. He quotes Rousseau who wrote that, “Smell is the sense of memory and desire”.

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Principles of Design #61 – Common Fate

Mar 13 2015

Common Fate is the Gestalt principle that elements that move in the same direction are seen to be more related than other elements that move in a different direction or are stationary. The brain “chunks” such elements together because of their common movement and direction. Although each bird in in a flock is no more than a dot, they are seen to be part of a unified whole as they move in the same direction with the same speed.

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Design Methods #28 – Creative Toolkits

Mar 01 2015

Creative toolkits are collections of objects organised to help users model, visualise or be creative through play, They are a way to package creative development and generative design into a collection of visual elements, objects or building bricks to help participants find concrete ways to express their ideas. Typically such creative play is very difficult to achieve through traditional research methods, and creative toolkits help teams create or co-create ideas and designs with customers. Read more »

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Context, context, context

Feb 23 2015

“For me context is the key – from that comes understanding of everything” – Kenneth Noland

I was lucky enough to find time for some reading over the past week, with the Chinese New Year holiday. I picked a diverse range of books to read, or what I thought were diverse, but looking back there was a common thread across all of them (and others that I have recently read). They all show in their different ways the importance of context in shaping behaviour, a theme that has repeatedly come back to me ever since my time as a student. Read more »

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Design Methods #27 – Think-aloud protocol

Feb 01 2015

Think-aloud protocol is an approach that asks users to verbalise what they are thinking and doing as they work through a task, in order to find aspects of the user experience that delight and more importantly those aspects that confuse and frustrate or don’t work in the way that they should. This is a very common method to evaluate usability of a product, service and, most often, software or website. The method is very straightforward in allowing users to share what they are thinking, feeling and doing as they complete any task, and to what extent the object or process being evaluated is helping them to achieve their immediate goals. Read more »

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