10 ‘Quite interesting’ things every designer should know about people


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How long can you expect to hold someone's attention? How much information can you expect people to remember? Here I look at 10 'quite interesting' things about people every UX designer should know.

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  • - In true QI fashion I’m going to introduce each topic with a question…
  • - Its early days so hopefully I’ve still got your attention
  • - About 7-10 mins is most we can pay attention to any one task- Talking about sustained attention – actively concentrating on something- And anyone that says they can multi-task is deluding themselves because we can only effectively focus on one task at a time – we can switch between tasks but our focus is only ever on one task
  • - Research has suggested that technology is making our attention span even shorter- I’ll just quickly check my email, or Facebook, I’ll just read the latest news headlines- Constantly flitting between things so are not used to focusing our attention for long- Very easily distracted
  • - YouTube perfectly taps into our attention span as most videos are less than 7 mins long- Will very, very rarely see a top video more than 7 mins
  • - I going to show you a short clip of QI and want to find out how much you can remember
  • -This is called the ‘Forgetting Curve’- Based on work in 1886 by Hermann Ebbinghaus investigating the degradation of memories- Shows how quickly we forget things unless we can store them in our long term memory – generally by actively using that information- By a week you can only remember about 20%, by a year that becomes almost nothing
  • - Of course we don’t remember everything - which is why not everyone guessed the right robber- Its why eyewitness testimonials can be very unreliable- Memories can be very deceptive because we effectively reconstruct a memory each time we use it - Our neurons fire up and we reconstruct that memory a new- This can lead to some interesting results e.g.
  • - We tend to remember things as better than they were- That hotel we stayed at a few years ago was amazing
  • - When in actual fact we’ve forgotten all the bad stuff- Tend to try to fit our memories with what we’d like to remember
  • - Research has shown that its surprisingly easy to change someone's memory – without the need for hypnosis- In one study people were asked to write down their food history e.g. foods they didn’t like as a child- Sometime later they were then reminded of their food history, with some false history added e.g. they felt sick after eating boiled eggs- People then showed less willingness to eat that food, even though that memory was completely made up- Demonstrates how mis-information can easily influence people
  • - Most people will say that the more choice they can have the better, but is this necessarily the best thing to offer them?
  • - A lot of research has been conducted looking at how much choice to give people- In one study jam tasting tables were setup in a supermarket, one with 6 different varieties, the other with 24- More people came to stop at the table with more jams (60% vs 40%) but only 3% went on to buy a jar, compared to 31% for the 6 variety table
  • - People can often struggle when there is too much choice – how do I decide what to go for?- I broke out in cold sweats when I recently went into a carpet store because there we so many options- Can be even worse online – 100s or even 1000s rather than 10s of choices- Why breadth, rather than depth is often a better strategy – offer a few products at different price ranges, rather than everything
  • - Instructions from a study in 2008 by Song and Schwarz – People were asked to carry out written instructions for a simple physical exercise- The people that were given the instructions in the hard to read font rated the exercise as more difficult to do, estimated that it would take more time and were less likely to incorporate it into their routine- Demonstrates the importance of making things easy to read- Especially important with computers, tablets and mobile as harder to read on a screen than paper
  • - Incidentally a misconception that capitals should be avoided online as they are harder to read- We’re just used to reading in lowercase so slower to read- Obviously wouldn’t use capitals for the main body of text but fine for titles etc…
  • - Everyone loves stories – they are perhaps the most natural way to communicate an idea or concept- Obviously the budget cuts in the US are meaning that Michelle Obama has had to supplement their income with a teaching job- Love the little boys hair cut – I can only guess a class mate did it for him!
  • - Storytelling is as old as people – Its entrenched in our DNA- Was how information was passed down through generations – Everyone can very quickly grasp a story
  • - A great example from Google for how to use a story to communicate something
  • - Ran Kivetz carried out this experiment and found that card A was more effective- Its because people are more motivated the closer they feel that they’re getting to the goal- Even though the number of coffees required are the same, Card A already has some stamps in so it seems that people are closer to the goal of a free coffee- We see this tactic employed elsewhere, such as…
  • - You always get a starter pack of stickers with an album- The closer you get to finishing an album (or team), the more important it gets - suddenly it’s the most important thing in the world!- Swapping your entire packed lunch at breaktime to get that illusive missing sticker
  • - Dropbox utilise this for new starters- People are shown the steps they have completed and how far they are from getting a bonus (of more space)- Incidentally people are more motivated to continue when the focus is given on what they still need to do, rather than what they have done
  • - Has anyone found Wally?
  • - I’m going to show you an image and would like you to tell me what the first thing you see is
  • -This picture was used in a 2005 study by Hannah Chua- People that grew up in East Asia saw the background first as they generally pay more attention to context and background- People that grew up in the West was the cows first, as they generally pay more attention to a main or dominant foreground object- Incidentally checkout out my awesome Photoshop skills for the background image – seamless!
  • - In the west cultural norms emphasise the individual – so people tend to focus on objects in the foreground
  • - In the east cultural norms emphasize relationships and groups so people tend to focus on the background
  • - Demonstrates that culture hugely affects how people think, behave and even see – even showing up in brain scans- Of course this is all very general – there are obviously large differences between different subcultures, such as between the Brits and the French- We really need to understand our users and their culture for online
  • - Did anyone spot the tasty child burger?- Lets hope thatTescos are not supplying their meat otherwise there might be more horsemeat than child meat in the burger!
  • - I’m going to show you a bunch of cars and want you to decide which you like best…
  • - We’re faced with hundreds, if not thousands of decisions every minute – have to almost instantly decide what to do- Think about driving a car – we make most decisions without thinking- Anyone that has looked into AI will appreciate the number of decisions just a simple task requires, such as walking across a room
  • - Its impossible to externalise all our decision processes because most of our decisions are made unconsciously- Shapes, colours, textures, feel all tap into the unconscious part of the brain – we know that we prefer the look of this car over that one, but can’t necessarily say why
  • - Tapping into that unconscious is a massive subject area in itself but its worth considering that people are not machines- We don’t have time to apply much thinking or logic – most things are done on gut or best guess- It’s one of the reasons why we’re not going to be seeing any humanoid robots anytime soon…
  • - And of course as any economist will tell you – people are not rational- Indeed many economic models have been shown to be incorrect because it was assumed that people were largely rational in their behaviour – they’re not
  • - If you have a product available online, via a catalogue and in a physical store – do you think that people will pay the same amount for it?
  • - When I say snack food I mean crisps, chocolate bars, that sort of thing…
  • - It turns out that the amount people will pay will vary depending on their access to the product- Ben Bushong carried out just this sort of a study in 2010 - People were given money to spend and various different descriptions for snack food, ranging from a purely textual description, to the physical product- They found that people would pay more for an item if they could touch and feel it- More than if it could be seen behind plexiglas and significantly more than if they could just see a text description, or a picture of the product
  • - Perhaps unsurprisingly people will value a product more highly when it’s physically in front of them (which is why this shop is so profitable)- We like to be able to touch and feel a product – especially something that we’re not entirely familiar with- Its perhaps partly why people tend to buy more non-physical items, such as CDs and DVDs online as opposed to more physically divergent products, such as clothes
  • - Its why making a product online as real as possible is so important- More pictures, more video, more description – the more ‘real’ it seems, the more people will pay- For example, this is a hotel in Inverness that allows you to tour the inside of the hotel using Google maps
  • - It seems that reports that Blockbuster are no longer available on the high street are simply not true!
  • - I’m going to show you 2 travel sites offering tourist information for Majorca- Which would you trust more?
  • - Hopefully everyone said B
  • - And how long did it take you to decide?- How long does it take people to decide whether to make that sort of a trust decision?
  • - Just 2 to 7 seconds- Its very much a gut feel – you obviously can’t read a lot of information in 2 to 7 seconds
  • - Studies have shown that people use look and feel as their primary indicator of trust- You might hear people saying, “This just doesn’t feel right”, “I have a bad feeling about this” (usually in a horror film just before the killer strikes)- This is equally true online e.g. in a 2004 study Elizabeth Silence (great name) asked people to look at various health websites and rate their level of trust in the site- They found that when people rejected a site as being untrustworthy design factors, such as look and feel and navigation accounted for 83% of their comments
  • - The better the design and look and feel for a site the more it will be initially trusted- Of course trust still needs to be built up and can be easily eroded – but design is key in overcoming that initial trust barrier
  • - If you want to learn more I can recommend Susan Weinschenk’s 100 things every designer needs to know about people book- Alternatively there are loads of psychology and cognition are articles out there about how people behave online – it really is a very interesting area!
  • 10 ‘Quite interesting’ things every designer should know about people

    1. 1. 10 ‘Quite interesting’ things every designer should know about people
    2. 2. Q. How long can you expect to hold someone’s attention? http://www.flickr.com/photos/stovak/2378145902/sizes/o/in/photostream/
    3. 3. 10 minutes if you’re lucky… Level of attention 0 5 10 15 Time (mins) 20 25
    4. 4. And attention spans are getting shorter… http://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/6153558098/
    5. 5. You Tube killed the video star? http://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/6153558098/
    6. 6. Q. How much information can you expect people to remember? http://www.flickr.com/photos/80218546@N03/7879293332/
    7. 7. Q. How much can you remember?
    8. 8. So who took the money?
    9. 9. 100% How long do people retain information? 80% 60% 40% 20% Day Week Month 6 Months Year
    10. 10. Memories can be deceptive http://www.flickr.com/photos/kjgarbutt/5358075923/
    11. 11. How you remembered the holiday… http://www.visitnoosa.com.au/images/Members/listings/1793209_209352_Tingirana_70_HiRes.jpg
    12. 12. The actual holiday… http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrstevenson/111028047/
    13. 13. Memories can even be changed, implanted & erased http://the-mind-controller.deviantart.com/gallery/?q=scooby#/d2pb10m
    14. 14. Q. How much choice should you give people? http://www.flickr.com/photos/davydubbit/1356825235/
    15. 15. We’re jamming, jamming… http://www.flickr.com/photos/51282757@N05/4780792238/
    16. 16. A limited choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dGhZwbsT54Y/TVRBT0GoSYI/AAAAAAAAKRk/YGih8fqg_nY/s1600/Sideburn%2BTV%2B1.jpg
    17. 17. Q. How can you make written instructions easier to carry out? http://www.flickr.com/photos/devbem/2593645734/sizes/z/in/photostream/
    18. 18. Tuck your chin into your chest, and then lift your chin upwards as far as possible. 6-10 repetitions. Lower your left ear towards your left shoulder and then your right ear toward your right shoulder. 6-10 repetitions. Tuck your chin into your chest, and then lift your chin upwards as far as possible. 6-10 repetitions. Lower your left ear towards your left shoulder and then your right ear toward your right shoulder. 6-10 repetitions. If it’s hard to read, it’s hard to do
    19. 19. AND CAPITAL LETTERS AREN’T ANY HARDER TO READ (JUST SLOWER) http://www.flickr.com/photos/hinkelstone/2937832909/
    20. 20. Q. How can you make information understandable, interesting & memorable? http://blog.thepertgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/106448128.jpg
    21. 21. Tell a story… http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/3351707140/
    22. 22. Story telling has been around for quite a while… http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinpoulton/6169851463/
    23. 23. A little story from
    24. 24. Q. How can you motivate people to reach a desired goal? http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/fat%20fighters
    25. 25. Q. Which reward card will motivate people to drink more coffee?
    26. 26. A B
    27. 27. Footy stickers anyone?
    28. 28. Getting started with Dropbox
    29. 29. Q. How can what people see tell you where they are from? http://www.findwaldo.com/fankit/graphics/IntlManOfLiterature/Scenes/DepartmentStore.jpg
    30. 30. Q. What is the first thing you see?
    31. 31. http://www.flickr.com/photos/orangecats/2130173981/
    32. 32. The cow or the background? http://www.flickr.com/photos/orangecats/2130173981/
    33. 33. WEST = Individualistic http://www.flickr.com/photos/dab_murals/6370759607/
    34. 34. EAST = Relationships http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardoh/3225045553/
    35. 35. People from different cultures think and see things differently http://www.frenchcreoles.com/bwcGroup_.jpg
    36. 36. Q. How do people make a decision? http://www.flickr.com/photos/leunix/518329490/
    37. 37. Q. Which car do you like best?
    38. 38. http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2010/108/e/a/Collage_Cars_by_Dark_AngeL_21.jpg
    39. 39. How did you decide? http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Lw7-qGugGFI/T3e4ahPwMXI/AAAAAAAAAT0/6zgs4Qc2wCk/s1600/TerminatorVision.jpg
    40. 40. Most decisions are made unconsciously http://www.flickr.com/photos/orangecats/2130173981/
    41. 41. People are not machines… http://images2.fanpop.com/image/photos/9400000/Lt-Commander-Data-star-trek-the-next-generation-9406565-1694-2560.jpg
    42. 42. EAST = Relationships And are far from rational… http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernardoh/3225045553/
    43. 43. Q. How much will people pay for the same product? http://www.flickr.com/photos/21849170@N06/3530685680/
    44. 44. Q. How much will people pay for snack food?
    45. 45. $1.40 $1.20 $1.00 $0.80 $0.60 Text Picture Behind Plexiglas Real
    46. 46. http://www.flickr.com/photos/8050359@N07/5601541148/ People value a product more highly when it’s physically in front of them
    47. 47. People will pay more, the more ‘real’ something appears http://www.invernesspalacehotel.co.uk/hotel/google-tours-at-the-best-western-inverness-palace-hotel-spa/
    48. 48. Q. How do people tell if something can be trusted? http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericejohnson/4306677355/in/photostream/
    49. 49. Q. Which would you trust more?
    50. 50. A http://www.flickr.com/photos/prlorenzoni/5093359472/ B
    51. 51. Q. How long does it take for someone to make a trust judgement?
    52. 52. Just 2 to 7 seconds http://www.flickr.com/photos/prlorenzoni/5093359472/
    53. 53. People use look and feel as their first indicator of trust http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinmeijer/7278066496/
    54. 54. Better design = More trust http://www.flickr.com/photos/rigib/4865976026/
    55. 55. Want to learn more? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Things-Every-Designer-Needs-People/dp/0321767535