Review of The Age of the Image by Stephen Apkon

Oct 13 2014

In The Age of the Image, Stephen Apkon argues that the (moving) image is becoming the dominant language of the twenty first century, replacing the word as the primary means of communication. He also argues that the importance of the rise of visual language makes it necessary to place it at the centre of the educational system. For anyone interested in communication and storytelling, this is an interesting read. Read more »

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Principles of Design #60 – Closure

Sep 23 2014

Closure is the name for the way in which humans perceive a set of individual unconnected elements as part of a single recognisable object or pattern rather than individual pieces. This is one of a number of principles relating to Gestalt psychology, and is so strong that people close gaps and fill in missing information to complete a pattern if necessary. Read more »

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Design Methods #24 – Behavioural Mapping

Sep 05 2014

Behavioural mapping is a process for recording location-based observations of human behaviour, through the annotation (manual or digital) of maps, plans, videos and photographs. It is used to document activities, behaviours, characteristics and movements of people in time and space. There are two main approaches to behavioural mapping. Read more »

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The Perils of Packaging Redesign

Aug 27 2014

I recently wrote an article for Singapore Institute of Management on the perils of changing branding, citing examples such as the GAP logo change and Pepsi’s disastrous reducing of the Tropicana packaging (which cost them millions of dollars). It seems that brand and marketing managers never learn the lessons of the Tropicana disaster (which I discuss in more detail in Brand esSense) and still love to tinker with brands, moving strategies, changing logos and ‘updating’ or ‘modernising’ their packaging.

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Design Methods #23 – Stakeholder Mapping & Analysis

Aug 25 2014

Stakeholder maps are used by designers and researchers to visually summarise and communicate the relationships between all those involved in a particular activity or project. Stakeholder analysis is used in project management to further understand and manage the needs and concerns of all relevant stakeholders, by identifying those affected and evaluating their influence, impact and attitudes toward the activity or project. Read more »

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Principles of Design #59 – Orientation Sensitivity

Aug 06 2014

Orientation sensitivity refers to visual processing of line orientations, when certain orientations are more quickly and easily processed than others. Think of a standard analogue clock which we can all quickly interpret. Apart from outrĂ© previous experience, the positioning of numbers at 30 degree increments around analogue clocks corresponds to minimum recommended for easy detection – differences which are less than 30 degrees can be much more difficult to detect and interpret. Read more »

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Design Methods #22 – Experiments

Jul 31 2014

Experiments are used in design and research to measure the effects of actions or features by showing the causal relationship between those actions or features and specific outcomes (e.g., behaviours). Typically, a hypothesis is posed about such relationships and then the actions or features are manipulated in controlled ways while the outcome is measured. In the simplest case (say low sweetness vs high sweetness in a beverage), the comparison of outcomes (amount drunk, preference rating) between the two conditions provides a simple model of the impact of the manipulation of sweetness.

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Physical Intelligence and Metaphorical Thinking

Jul 24 2014

Sensation: The new science of physical intelligence by Thalma Lobel connects a number of themes from the Inspector Insight and Doctor Disruption blogs. The focus of the book is on the practical implications of the theory of embodied cognition connecting this idea to ideas of metaphorical thinking and symbolism in the environment, themes explored in Brand esSense and in many previous articles (see Thinking about analogy, Metaphors in thinking, Metaphors in semiotics, Sensory metaphors and Creativity and metaphor). Sensation is the clearest explanation I have read of embodied thinking, linking the results of years of stand-alone research studies to an underlying theory of the relationship between human thinking, sensory perception and the interactions between humans and the environment.

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Principles of Design #58 – Signal-to-Noise Ratio

Jul 22 2014

Signal-to-noise ratio is the ratio of relevant to irrelevant information in a display, and one of the most important outcomes for a designer of any system, product or communication is to design the highest possible ratio of signal to noise. Communication is all about the creation, transmission and reception of information, and during each of these stages the signal is degraded and irrelevant information (noise) added. Such degradation reduces the amount of useful information with a lower amount of signal and a greater amount of noise (hence a lower signal-to-noise ratio). Good design always maximises signal and minimised noise.

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Design Methods #21 – User Journey Maps

Jul 18 2014

User journey maps are used to visualise the experiences of people when using a product or service, evaluating each individual interaction and identifying improvements that can be made at each moment. The map tells the ‘story’ of an individual’s actions, feelings, perceptions, considerations and behaviours including positive as well as negative moments, covering all such interactions over sometimes long periods of time. Such documentation of a series of events helps shift business focus from an operational (system) point of view to a the broader context of how individuals interact with the business in the real world.

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