Why Our Stomach (and Brain) Can’t Count: Seven Reasons We Eat More Than We Think

Jun 18 2015

In Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink provides a fantastic behavioural perspective on human eating habits, based on years of subtle, sophisticated and sometimes strange experiments. The book contains a long list of behavioural quirks, so I have picked seven key ideas from the book that help explain why we often eat more than we should or need to, and how we can change our environment to improve our eating habits. Read more »

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Design Methods #31 – Value Opportunity Analysis

Jun 16 2015

VOA Chart for Blender (sourced from DesignWiki)

Value Opportunity Analysis helps researchers and designers map the impact of user’s aspirations and lifestyle to product design features. As we have written in Brand esSense and on this blog, where product execution meets the goals of customers, then they will pay a higher price and appreciate any improvement that makes the product better deliver against their goals (or ‘jobs’). Many products and services are designed to improve quality of life, and the connection to improved life quality depends on those things most valued by customers. Read more »

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Design Methods #30 – Shadowing

May 27 2015

Shadowing is the generic term for observational methods that involve following someone in their role or performing a task, in order to experience someone’s daily life and garner insights into the nuances of day-to-day tasks and human behaviours. Typically, shadowing is well documented with photographs, notes and sketches and supplemented with face-to-face discussion to understand the details of behaviours and decisions.

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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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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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