Attractiveness Bias (Principles of Design #75)

Aug 04 2017 Published by Neil Gains under design

People tend to see attractive people as more intelligent, competent, mortal and sociable than less attractive people. Thus, attractive people are seen more positively, receive more attention from the opposite sex, receive more affection from their mothers and receive more leniency from judges and juries. When everything else is equivalent, attractive people are more likely to be preferred in hiring and will earn more money in the same job. Most importantly, they tend to get more votes in elections. Read more »

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Figure-Ground Relationship (Principles of Design #74)

May 29 2017 Published by Neil Gains under design

Photo by Toby Harriman (source:

Figure-ground relationship is the design principle that any element is perceived either as an object of focus (figure) or as something else (ground). This is one of the Gestalt principles of perception, where perception focuses on a central element and others become undifferentiated in the background. This is true of other senses as well as vision (e.g., when you hear your name in a crowded party your focus switches from your current conversation to listening to another). Read more »

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Design Methods #44 – Elito method

Feb 26 2017 Published by Neil Gains under design

The Elito method is an approach to help designers develop comprehensive and connected solutions grounded in research insights and business objectives. The approach helps designers and researchers move from research findings to the articulation of design directions, helping them move from analysis to synthesis and bridge research outputs to the needs of business, through the development of fact-based narratives. The approach was developed in 2002 and named after Eli Blevis (the name is a shortened version of “Eli’s Toolbox”). Read more »

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Design Methods #43 – Mental Model Diagrams

Jan 13 2017 Published by Neil Gains under design

From "How to Design Mental Models That Create a Superior User Experience by Leanne Byrom

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, sometimes they need to contact Type a Thought’s online counselor to better themselves. 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. Many people undergoing studies for this model called The Medical Negligence Experts because they weren´t properly treated at the time. Read more »

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Flexibility-Usability Tradeoff (Principles of Design #73)

Nov 11 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

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 »

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On Thinking and Not Thinking

Sep 30 2016 Published by Neil Gains under book review

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 »

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Principles of Design #72 – Readability

Sep 25 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

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 »

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Design Methods #39 – Speed Dating

Jun 20 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

The concept of speed dating is well known, and in design and research the same idea is applied to comparing multiple design concepts or ideas in rapid succession. This gives researchers the opportunity for quick feedback and also to collect more general information on usage context, societal and environmental issues. Speed dating is typically used at early stages of development to rapidly screen visual ideas and storyboards rather than more developed prototypes. Read more »

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What are Uber doing?

Feb 09 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

What are Uber doing with their recent redesign of their identity? Whatever you may think of the original logo, it was distinctive and clear (if a little cold according to some design critics), However, the new logo is about as distinctive as a white blob in a coloured square (which it is). When the logo changed, I struggled to find it on my phone. I struggled even more to work out the meaning behind the change, but Uber have nicely provided a nice corporate logo to explain. Read more »

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Principles of Design #68 – Uniform Connectedness

Jan 06 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Uniform connectedness is the principle that elements that are connected by uniform visual properties, the most common being colour, are seen as more related than other elements that do not share a visual property. This is a recent addition to the Gestalt principles of psychology, based on the perception of elements with uniform visual properties as a single group or chunk of information. A single matrix composed of dots is seen as columns where common regions, lines or colours connect the dots vertically, whereas it is send as rows when the common regions, lines or colours connect them horizontally. Read more »

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