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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Design Methods #41 – Exploratory Research

Sep 16 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

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.

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Principles of Design #71 – Accessibility

Jul 11 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

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 »

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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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Design Methods #35 – Artefact Analysis

Feb 23 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Artefact analysis is the systematic evaluation of objects in their natural environment. Artefact analysis looks at the material, aesthetic and usage qualities of any object in order to understand its physical, social and cultural context. It has been used frequently by anthropologists to understand other cultures, and is increasingly used in design and research to understand the lives of people through the things that surround them.

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Principles of Design #66 – Similarity

Nov 23 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

It is a key principle of design that elements that are similar are perceived by users to be more closely related than elements that are dissimilar. This principle comes from Gestalt psychology, and while often seeming obvious is important to the way that users interact with objects, helping them simplify and structure the world. A simple matrix with alternative rows of dots and squares, this becomes a set of rows only with the similar elements grouped into holistic lines. In the same way, even complex displays is interpreted as having different areas and groupings depending on the colour, shape or size of different elements and to what degree they appear similar. Read more »

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Using Sensory Signature to Build Brand esSense: Bringing experience to the heart of your brand identity

Oct 01 2015 Published by Neil Gains under sensory branding

“Unify, simplify, amplify” – Ken Carbone

When asked to define brand identity, many people brand logos and names as well as the history and values of brands. Some even mention the design of a product or experience, but very few immediately mention the role of the senses in creating distinctive and memorable experiences. Many dictionary definitions focus solely on the visual look and feel of brands, but a better definition might be, “the elements of a brand that together identify and distinguish the brand in the consumer’s mind”.

For Keller, Aperia and Georgson, brand identity answers the fundamental question, “Who are you?” However, my favourite definition comes from Alina Wheeler’s Designing Brand Identity. She states that, “Brand identity is tangible and appeals to the senses. You can see it, touch it, hold it, hear it, watch it move. Brand identity fuels recognition, amplifies differentiation, and makes big ideas and meaning accessible. Brand identity takes disparate elements and unifies them into whole systems.” Read more »

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Review of Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind

Sep 29 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

Of all the books I have read on the sense of touch, the best short introduction is Touch: The science of hand, heart and mind by David Linden. Only published earlier this year, a paperback version will be available at the beginning of 2016. This is clear and comprehensive overview of the role of touch in human lives, it’s relationship to emotion and social relationships and its interaction with the other senses. Read more »

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On Becoming More Risk Savvy

Sep 05 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

“Knowledge is the antidote to fear” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Risk Savyy is recommended for everyone. Over the course of the book, Gerd Gigerenzer highlights the ways in which all of us, including the very best professionals, often misunderstand and misuse statistics and probabilities and end up making the wrong decision. He shows that risk and uncertainty are not the same thing, and how the way in which information is presented changes the decisions that we make. While covering some of the same ground as Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow,this book contains simple rules and tools that will help you to avoid the same mistakes. Read more »

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Using Price to Your Advantage

Jul 14 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

I’ve written a few pieces on the psychology of pricing recently, so now it’s time to turn to the business of pricing. The Price Advantage is definitely one of the best books on using pricing to create commercial advantage, and avoiding common mistakes that businesses make. While it doesn’t touch much on the psychology of individual customers it does provide a great overview and frameworks for thinking about pricing strategy and maximising profitability through price.

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