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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The Rhyme and Rhythm of Branding: Using Sound to Build Sense, Symbol and Story into your Brand

Aug 08 2016 Published by Neil Gains under sensory branding

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 esSenseĀ® framework outlined in Brand esSense, other aspects of sound can also contribute to building a brand through the senses, symbols and stories.

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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 #36 – Cultural Probes

Mar 02 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Cultural probes are the name designers give to exercises, activities and provocations given to participants in a study to provide inspiration and understanding about their lives, thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and the cultural and social context that informs them. In market research, such activities might be associated with longitudinal studies and with pre-work (homework) and follow-up work done in connection with more formal interviews and participant discussions.Ā  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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Principles of Design #67 – Propositional Density

Dec 23 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

Propositional density refers to the relationship between the meaning conveyed by a design and the individual elements that comprise the design itself, with high propositional density coming from the richness and complexity of the meanings of a design relative to the simplicity of the elements that make it up. That is, high propositional density is the semioticians dream of richly layered meanings that derive from a simply designed feature, object or visual. Read more »

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Design Methods #34 – Photo Studies

Dec 09 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

In photo studies, participants are asked to document ideas, events and aspects of their lives with photos, allowing researchers and designers to collect visual insights into their behaviours, motivations and beliefs. Such studies are very personal and provide inspiration for design and co-creation based on the worlds of the users of products or services.

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Design Methods #33 – Content Analysis

Oct 03 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

Content analysis is a systematic listing and description of the form and content of written, spoken or visual materials, often leading to a summarisation around themes, patterns and frequency counts of specific items (words, phrases, images, concepts, etc). Content analysis is typically used in qualitative research to provide a more manageable way to analyse open-ended comments and verbatims. Content analysis can be used to give structure and system to what are often deep accounts of a topic, but with lengthy text or transcripts and ambiguous images that can be very time-consuming to interpret. Read more »

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