How Design Works

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This presentation was delivered to the Chicago Product Management Association in June 2011. It draws on my practical experience as a software designer, but significantly upon "Designing with the Mind in Mind" by Jeff Johnson and "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Normal. If you're interested in the topic, both are fascinating reads.

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  • Better huh? Without a doubt. And that’s the state of design understanding today among many product owners, developers and executives today. Designers are creatives who are good at making things that are bad better. That definition of design and designers is a problem. Not just for designers. For the success of products and business. As it turns out, good design has tremendous bottom line impact on our products. And we can increasingly quantify the impact of good design and understand some of it’s underlying mechanisms. For example, among the designers out there, improving the design of the title slide increased the odds that you believe my claim that I’m a fantastic designer by 8%. And among the non-designers, you’re about 20% more likely to believe everything I have to say today. Without knowing whether I’m really a designer, seeing any examples of my so-called fantastic design skills, or even knowing whether actually I’m the person who designed this presentation.\n
  • That what I’d like to talk about today. Qualifying and quantifying the value of design, and communicating a better understanding of how good design (and bad design) changes the way we think, work, and feel about products. And changes whether or not products are successful in the market.\n
  • There’s a lot of confusion of what design is. Here’s the founder of twitter saying something called User Experience Design is everything.\n
  • And the Joel Spolsky claiming something called usability is not everything.\n
  • Jason Fried - a designer - saying that design is something ineffable yet still more important than the technology of your business.\n
  • Perhaps the most accurate definition of design I’ve ever seen comes from Jared Spool, who characterizes it as something CEOs won’t pay for.\n
  • Here is my definition of design.\n
  • More precisely, design is 4 things. What it does. Whether I can accomplish something I need to do. Whether I find it appealing. How I feel about it before, during and after. Or functionality, usability, aesthetics and emotion. And specifically, how design adheres to the capabilities and infirmities of the human mind.\n
  • I need two volunteers, preferably from the first row.\nAsk a volunteer to leave.\nPerson that remains. You remember college, right? Well, it turns out that when people go to college websites, the thing they look for most is a map of campus. Makes sense, right? So, I’m going to show you a typical college home page. I want you to find a way to navigate to a map of campus. When you find one, please let me know. I’m going to keep track of how long it takes. And remember… everyone here is judging you on how fast you do this. \n\nPerson Two - Ok, I’m going to show you a typical college home page. On it there’s a link saying that I’ll give you $20 bucks, no questions asked. I want you to find that link and tell me when you do. I’m going to keep track of the time it takes. Great - mind if I ask - how many links to a map of the campus were located directly on the home page?\n
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  • I need two volunteers, preferably from the first row.\nAsk a volunteer to leave.\nPerson that remains. You remember college, right? Well, it turns out that when people go to college websites, the thing they look for most is a map of campus. Makes sense, right? So, I’m going to show you a typical college home page. I want you to find a way to navigate to a map of campus. When you find one, please let me know. I’m going to keep track of how long it takes. And remember… everyone here is judging you on how fast you do this. \n\nPerson Two - Ok, I’m going to show you a typical college home page. On it there’s a link saying that I’ll give you $20 bucks, no questions asked. I want you to find that link and tell me when you do. I’m going to keep track of the time it takes. Great - mind if I ask - how many links to a map of the campus were located directly on the home page?\n
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  • cited by 40% of participants in an Akamai study\n
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  • Mathematical model based on an Akamai study\n
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  • Humans speak naturally. Untaught humans will teach themselves a language\nBy contrast, humans require over ten years of intense training to read at an advanced level\nIf we don’t read regularly, our ability degrades\n
  • \nTime average American spends reading anything at all daily: 24 minutes\nThere are more HS dropouts than college graduates in the U.S.\n
  • Vast discrepancies between proficient and novice readers. User entirely different areas of the brain to read. Novice readers put forth so much effort towards simple text processing they don’t understand the meaning.\n
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  • Give you two names. You’ll tell me which name belongs to which shape. The words are Booba. And Kiki. Point to the one you think is named Kiki. Remember, once again, you’re being judged. Congratulations. You are a neurotypical human. 90% of all people in every language group and every culture ever tested agree with you. This is an example of synethsia. Profound synethsia is sometimes described famously by musicians, who claim to see colors associated with musical notes. Nearly everyone has some form of mild cross activation of the senses, however, as we see here where vision and sound and meaning are triggered. Interestingly, autistic people do not perform the same way as neurotypicals on this test. In any case, this is called the Booba Kiki effect, and it’s considered to be a part of visual appeal. \n
  • Is there a universal set of rules that describe vision? Yes. And they’re called the Gestalt principles of perception. The first is called closure. Do you see a dalmation sniffing the ground? Most people will. That’s because our brain will attempt to perceive patterns and close figures where none exist.\n
  • Next up is the law of similarity. When asked to describe this figure, the vast majority of people will say they see three rows of white dots and three rows of black dots. Not six rows of dots nor 36 dots in total.\n
  • Law of proximity. We can also induce a change in the way a the mind perceives groups by adjusting the distance between objects. Once again, people will describe the left figure as 6 rows of dots and the left as 3 groups of dots.\n
  • Principle of continuity. We follow the straightest possible line. So we see two lines here. ((show which))\n
  • Things that move or change together share a relationship\n
  • Golden Ratio\n
  • Ahamed Altaboli and Yingzi Lin\nSound simple, doesn’t it? So simple, it seems like… even a computer could measure it!\n
  • Sound simple, doesn’t it? So simple, it seems like… even a computer could measure it!\n
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  • Raise your hand if you remember the name of your dentist when you were 16 years old. Now, raise your hand if you remember the name of the first person you kissed.\n
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  • How Design Works

    1. 1. HOWDESIGN MATTERS
    2. 2. Matt Nolker @mattnolker
    3. 3. User experience is everything...“ it. Get your whole company on Obsess over it. Live and breathe board. Better to iterate a hundred times to get the right ” feature right than to add a hundred more. Evan Williams Twitter founder
    4. 4. Usability is not everything. If usability engineers designed a“ quiet, brightly lit, with lots of nightclub, it would be clean, places to sit down, plenty of bartenders, menus written in 18- point sans-serif, and easy-to- find bathrooms. But nobody ” would be there. They would all be down the street at Coyote Ugly pouring beer on each other. Joel Spolsky StackExchange Founder
    5. 5. Technology is a commodity…“ is design, copywriting, What really makes the difference execution, clarity, passion, and the overall customer experience. The stuff you can’t specifically ” define... are the things that matter. Jason Fried 37signals Founder
    6. 6. I’ve been pitching our services“ for 23 years and I’ve never once successfully convinced an executive of anything. ” Jared Spool User Interface Engineering
    7. 7. Design is the value of sticking Jams on Abe Lincoln
    8. 8. What it doesWhether it allows me to accomplish mygoalsWhether it appeals to meHow it makes me feel
    9. 9. READY FOR A TEST?
    10. 10. ALWAYS BE GOAL DIRECTED
    11. 11. Rule 1: Your product should directlyaddress user’s immediate goals at all timesAll humans are goal-oriented.We only perceive things related to ourgoal.
    12. 12. Why designing for user goals is important25.3% conversion 47.8% conversion
    13. 13. ALWAYS BE RESPONSIVE
    14. 14. To respond rapidly, operate on a humantime scale We perceive and register emotional reaction to a site .01s design. We notice lag in scrolling and on touch-sensitive devices. Smallest moment of time of which we’re consciously aware. .1s Time to identify up to 4 objects. Deadline for displaying busy indicators (perception of cause-effect). Maximum allowable conversational gap. Deadline for finishing user-requested operations like 1s opening a window. Maximum time to delay user with unrequested operations like auto-save. Average time a human can concentrate on a task without pausing. 10s Deadline for completing one step in a multi-step process.
    15. 15. Responsiveness is the largest determinate of whether someone will re-visit a site.
    16. 16. Every .01 of site delay costs Amazon 1% of sales
    17. 17. Increasing the display of search results by 0.5seconds boosted Google’s search ad revenue by 20%
    18. 18. 40% of visitors abandon a site taking >4 seconds to display
    19. 19. Rule 2: Good design is highly concernedwith apparent responsivenessSmooth animationsUse of AjaxUse of spinners, animation andtransitions to distract while the system isperforming work
    20. 20. READING IS NOT NATURAL
    21. 21. 0Median number of books read annually 50% of Americans are aliterate 2 minutes Longest period of reading among aliterates
    22. 22. User performance on a reading-intensive task Time it took 48 of 73 users to find the corporate address on a website.
    23. 23. Good design is written in a simple,conversational toneFamiliar patterns of conversation speechstyle aids comprehension in novicereadersDifficult words such as jargon causes taskcompletion to exceed the 10 second taskspan
    24. 24. LOOKS MATTER
    25. 25. ANOTHER TEST!
    26. 26. Good visual design...Follows or carefully violates GestaltprinciplesGroups objects using movement,symmetry, proximityArranges those groups in a proportionalsystem of ratios such as the golden ratio
    27. 27. Consumers judge credibility based on visual appeal
    28. 28. EMOTION AFFECTS DESIGN
    29. 29. TEST TIME!
    30. 30. “Confession: sometimes I make too long Feathers-tweets just towatch the bird turn red.” – @evbjone
    31. 31. Emotion and cognition are not separatePositive emotions improve memoryPositive emotions improve the perceptionusabilityPositive emotions cause people to bemore open to exploring new ideasNegative emotions cause people to focusbetter and be more careful
    32. 32. Humans love things that make them feel good
    33. 33. Attractive things are perceived to be more usable .76 Correlation between emotional quality of site .71 Correlation between emotional quality of the and expected site site and reported usability usability before site was after site was used. used. .01 Correlation between emotional quality and error rate
    34. 34. Meet the $300,000,000 button
    35. 35. Matt Nolker @mattnolker

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