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What UX Designers
Need to Know about Design Fixation
Robert J. Youmans, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Creative Design and...
Design Fixation
1. Psychological Problem: Design Fixation
2. How Design Fixation Can Disrupt Optimal UX
Design

3. Ways to...
The Problem: Design Fixation
In clinical psychology, 'fixation' is a type of Freudian symptom
whereby one person becomes o...
The Problem: Design Fixation
Design Fixation – a measurable, blind adherence to past ideas or
concepts that limits the cre...
The Problem: Design Fixation
Design Fixation – a measurable, blind adherence to past ideas or
concepts that limits the cre...
The Problem: Design Fixation
Design Fixation – a measurable, blind adherence to past ideas or
concepts that limits the cre...
Design Fixation
1. Psychological Problem: Design Fixation
2. How Design Fixation Can Disrupt Optimal UX
Design

3. Ways to...
Design Fixation & UX Design

Infrared LED Circuit (2010's)

Infrared LED Circuit (1990's)

Atlas Remote(~1990's)
New Versi...
Design Fixation & UX Design

'Champion' Remote (2012)

Really?

Design Fixation!!!
Design Fixation
1. Psychological Problem: Design Fixation
2. How Design Fixation Can Disrupt Optimal UX
Design

3. Ways to...
Researching Design Fixation
• *We recruited nine GMU Civil Engineering students enrolled in a
mixed graduate/undergraduate...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.

The following is a bad poster example that did
not wor...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
(while wearing an ...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
(while wearing an ...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
(while wearing an ...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
(while wearing an ...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
(while wearing an ...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
(while wearing an ...
Researching Design Fixation
1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
(while wearing an ...
Researching Design Fixation
What did you look at:
-First?

1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad exa...
Researching Design Fixation
What did you look at:
-First?
-Most Frequent?

1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They ...
Researching Design Fixation
What did you look at:
-First?
-Most Frequent?
-Longest Duration?

1. We told participants a co...
Researching Design Fixation
What did you look at:
-First?
-Most Frequent?
-Longest Duration?

Why did you look at
those it...
Researching Design Fixation

End of Data Collection.

1. We told participants a cover story.
2. They viewed a bad example ...
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?

Fixation Score = 2
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?

Fixation Score = 9
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?

Average Fixation of Engineers = 4....
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 2: Did eye gaze during scene viewing predict design fixation?
Eye Tracking:
1st – Duc...
Researching Design Fixation
Analysis 2: Does locus of attention during scene viewing predict design
fixation?
100%
90%

Ey...
Researching Design Fixation
Researching Design Fixation
Researching Design Fixation
Researching Design Fixation
TAKE HOME MESSAGES:
1. Professionals (from all backgrounds) experience design fixation.
2. Des...
UX at George Mason University
The Human Factors/ UX Program at GMU:
•

The graduate program in Human Factors and Applied C...
What UX Designers
Need to Know about Design Fixation
Robert J. Youmans, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Creative Design and...
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Design Fixation for UX Professionals in 10 Minutes or Less! (Dec. 11, 2013)

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A talk given by Professor Robert Youmans of George Mason University (http://humanfactors.gmu.edu/research/cdux) to the NOVA UX Meetup group about Design Fixation, how Design Fixation affects UX, and some research about how Design Fixation might be prevented.

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Design Fixation for UX Professionals in 10 Minutes or Less! (Dec. 11, 2013)

  1. 1. What UX Designers Need to Know about Design Fixation Robert J. Youmans, Ph.D. Department of Psychology Creative Design and User Experience (CDUX) Laboratory Group George Mason University December 11, 2013
  2. 2. Design Fixation 1. Psychological Problem: Design Fixation 2. How Design Fixation Can Disrupt Optimal UX Design 3. Ways to Avoid Design Fixation Based on Psychological Research
  3. 3. The Problem: Design Fixation In clinical psychology, 'fixation' is a type of Freudian symptom whereby one person becomes obsessed with an idea or person.
  4. 4. The Problem: Design Fixation Design Fixation – a measurable, blind adherence to past ideas or concepts that limits the creativity and output of designers (Jansson& Smith, 1991). Examples of Design Fixation: (American Mechanical Engineers; Jansson& Smith, 1991)
  5. 5. The Problem: Design Fixation Design Fixation – a measurable, blind adherence to past ideas or concepts that limits the creativity and output of designers (Jansson& Smith, 1991). Examples of Design Fixation: (European Industrial Design Students; Cardoso &Badke-Schaub, 2011)
  6. 6. The Problem: Design Fixation Design Fixation – a measurable, blind adherence to past ideas or concepts that limits the creativity and output of designers (Jansson& Smith, 1991). Examples of Design Fixation: (Teams of 3 American Engineers; Linsey, Tseng, Fu, Cagan, Wood, &Schunn, 2010)
  7. 7. Design Fixation 1. Psychological Problem: Design Fixation 2. How Design Fixation Can Disrupt Optimal UX Design 3. Ways to Avoid Design Fixation Based on Psychological Research
  8. 8. Design Fixation & UX Design Infrared LED Circuit (2010's) Infrared LED Circuit (1990's) Atlas Remote(~1990's) New Version (2010) Design Fixation!
  9. 9. Design Fixation & UX Design 'Champion' Remote (2012) Really? Design Fixation!!!
  10. 10. Design Fixation 1. Psychological Problem: Design Fixation 2. How Design Fixation Can Disrupt Optimal UX Design 3. Ways to Avoid Design Fixation Based on Psychological Research
  11. 11. Researching Design Fixation • *We recruited nine GMU Civil Engineering students enrolled in a mixed graduate/undergraduate course on ‘Inventive Engineering’ (Average Age = 22.4 years; 33% Female). • We asked them to design another version of a poorly-designed recruitment poster for Psi Chi (the psychology honor society). • An SR Research Eye Link II head-mounted eye tracker was used to watch designers’ eye movements while viewing an example design. *See: Smith, M. A., Youmans, R. J., Bellows, B. G., & Peterson, M. S. (2013). Shifting the focus: an objective look at design fixation. In Design, User Experience, and Usability. Design Philosophy, Methods, and Tools (pp. 144-151). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  12. 12. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. The following is a bad poster example that did not work…PLEASE design something better.
  13. 13. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min)
  14. 14. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker)
  15. 15. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker)
  16. 16. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker)
  17. 17. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker)
  18. 18. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) Blank Screen… ?
  19. 19. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) 4. They drew a new design (10 min)
  20. 20. Researching Design Fixation 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) 4. They drew a new design (10 min) 5. Questionnaire about designing
  21. 21. Researching Design Fixation What did you look at: -First? 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) 4. They drew a new design (10 min) 5. Questionnaire about designing
  22. 22. Researching Design Fixation What did you look at: -First? -Most Frequent? 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) 4. They drew a new design (10 min) 5. Questionnaire about designing
  23. 23. Researching Design Fixation What did you look at: -First? -Most Frequent? -Longest Duration? 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) 4. They drew a new design (10 min) 5. Questionnaire about designing
  24. 24. Researching Design Fixation What did you look at: -First? -Most Frequent? -Longest Duration? Why did you look at those items? 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) 4. They drew a new design (10 min) 5. Questionnaire about designing
  25. 25. Researching Design Fixation End of Data Collection. 1. We told participants a cover story. 2. They viewed a bad example (2 min) (while wearing an eye tracker) 3. They Brainstormed (10 min) 4. They drew a new design (10 min) 5. Questionnaire about designing
  26. 26. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
  27. 27. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
  28. 28. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
  29. 29. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much? Fixation Score = 2
  30. 30. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much?
  31. 31. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much? Fixation Score = 9
  32. 32. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 1: Did Designers Fixate – and if so, by how much? Average Fixation of Engineers = 4.44 (out of 25 possible fixation features) Most Frequently Fixated Items: - Rainbow Text (n = 5) - Head Profile (n = 4) - Trees (n = 4)
  33. 33. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 2: Did eye gaze during scene viewing predict design fixation? Eye Tracking: 1st – Duck Frequent – Speech Bubble Longest – Slide
  34. 34. Researching Design Fixation Analysis 2: Does locus of attention during scene viewing predict design fixation? 100% 90% Eye Tracking Data 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 22.00% 20% 11.00% 11.00% Most Frequently Longest Duration 10% 0% First Chance (17.76%)
  35. 35. Researching Design Fixation
  36. 36. Researching Design Fixation
  37. 37. Researching Design Fixation
  38. 38. Researching Design Fixation TAKE HOME MESSAGES: 1. Professionals (from all backgrounds) experience design fixation. 2. Design fixation affects UX design because old design concepts are often not the best in terms of UX. 3. Given that many of us in the design community often work from prior example, taking a balanced approach to their critique may protect against design fixation in your own work.
  39. 39. UX at George Mason University The Human Factors/ UX Program at GMU: • The graduate program in Human Factors and Applied Cognition (HFAC) provides instruction and research training (MA and PhD) for students wishing to pursue careers in the academic, public, and private sectors. Certificate programs in usability and human factors in transportation are also offered. • Check out http://humanfactors.gmu.edu for more information. • Applications to the department's MA program in Human Factors are due on: February 1, 2014
  40. 40. What UX Designers Need to Know about Design Fixation Robert J. Youmans, Ph.D. Department of Psychology Creative Design and User Experience (CDUX) Laboratory Group George Mason University December 11, 2013 Many Thanks to the Following: My Funding Agent: The NSF's EAGER Program (Award CMMI-1226933) My Colleagues: Drs. Matt Peterson (Psychology) and Tom Arciszewski (Engineering) My Students: Melissa Smith, Brooke Bellows, Jordan Higgins, Ivonne Figueroa, Christian Gonzalez, Melody Weaver, Mallory DeMarines, Chris Ummen, Amy Higgins, Kevone Bennett, David Kim.

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