Mental Model Diagrams rely on the fact that people behave in ways that are consistent with core beliefs they hold to help visualise the causes of their behaviours and develop solutions that meet their needs. Mental Model Diagrams are detailed summaries of the behaviours, beliefs and emotions that relate to specific tasks undertaken by that person and in turn to specific design features (in the bottom half of the example above). Such diagrams help designers to focus on product development strategies that reflect the reality of how people feel, think and act in relation to specific jobs in their lives. Read more »
Designers often agree a set of criteria (heuristics) for evaluating the usability of an design or interface, and Jakob Nielsen developed his own set of heuristics for evaluating computer software (and have been adapted and updated for mobile phone apps). Although the approach is informal, it is a good way to ensure that a set of best practice “rules of thumb” are used to screen prototypes of products or interfaces before they are given to users to test.
All designers have to balance the need for flexibility with the need for usability, because as one increases the other inevitably decreases. Or in c common parlance, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Systems that are designed to be more flexible have more functions than more specialised designs but are inevitably less functional as a consequence. Read more »
In their most recent report on advertising creativity and effectiveness, the IPA and author Peter Field reach the startling conclusion that both creativity and effectiveness are under threat. And who are the culprits? They believe that short-term thinking and especially a focus on driving rapid sales effects, combined with the post-global financial crisis recession, are killing the creativity of advertising. Read more »
Proclaimed as “The All New” Don’t Think of an Elephant, George Lakoff’s classic book has been substantially rewritten and updated to reflect contemporary issues in political debate and recent electoral history. The original book was a must read for anyone interested in behavioural science, communication (or politics) and the important lessons from the first book remain, updated and expanded in this even better and more valuable book. Read more »
Readability is the degree to which prose can be understood, determined by word length, word commonality, sentence length, number of clauses in a sentence and the number of syllables in the sentence. It is something that is often overlooked by designers and researchers, who often believe that more complex information requires complex presentation. This, of course, is bunkum. The principle of cognitive fluency teaches us that the easier something is to read the more readily it will be understood and the more likely it will be acted on. I write this as I am preparing for a client workshop on report writing where the number 1 principle is make everything as simple as possible (but no simpler as Einstein famously said). Read more »
Exploratory research covers a wide variety of approaches used in the first stages of a research program where territory is unfamiliar. Exploratory research is often used to plan, scope and define later research stages, by understanding the key issues, dynamics, beliefs and behaviours relating to a particular topic as well as the context of the topic and business challenge. It is usually immersive for the researcher or designer, helping them build understanding and empathy with the user and the context of the design challenge.
Sound is often the most neglected of the senses when it comes to branding, although it is only second to the visual senses in terms of its importance and has a very specific role that helps the brain to create stories from cause and effect.
There is more to using sound in branding than music and song, important as they are. Of course, music and song are particularly powerful in creating links to specific emotions. However, in the esSense® framework outlined in Brand esSense, other aspects of sound can also contribute to building a brand through the senses, symbols and stories.
Case studies have always been an important part of teaching and also have been used regularly in the social sciences and design. They are useful in exploratory research for comparison with existing knowledge about a topic, problem, phenomenon or design, as well as to provide inspiration and to inform better practice. Read more »
It is common sense that objects and environments would be designed to be usable by as many people as possible without any modification. Except that common sense is never as common as it should be. For example, Kim Walker and Dick Stroud point out in Marketing to the Ageing Consumer, that far too few businesses really consider the needs and constraints of those users beyond 20-30 year olds with perfect sensory, physical and mental abilities. Read more »