The book suggestion of this week is an indispensable one not only for those that are starting out their careers, but to any designer. The book is 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk. We design to elicit responses from people. We want them to buy something, read more, or take action of some kind. Designing without understanding what makes people act the way they do is like exploring a new city without a map: results will be haphazard, confusing, and inefficient. This book combines real science and research with practical examples to deliver a guide every designer needs. With it you’ll be able to design more intuitive and engaging work for print, websites, applications, and products that matches the way people think, work, and play. The book is about very important topics that every designer should know. It talks about ways to increase the effectiveness, conversion rates, and usability of your own design projects by finding the answers to questions such as: What grabs and holds attention on a page or screen? What makes memories stick? What is more important, peripheral or central vision? How can you predict the types of errors that people will make? What is the limit to someone’s social circle? How do you motivate people to continue on to (the next step? What line length for text is best? Are some fonts better than others? About the Susan Susan Weinschenk has a Ph.D. in Psychology, and a 30-year career in applying psychology to the design of technology. She has written several books on user-centered design. Her 2008 book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?, published by New Riders, applies the research on neuroscience to the design of web sites. A popular speaker and presenter, her nickname is "The Brain Lady". She is Chief of User Experience Strategy, Americas, at Human Factors International, and runs a popular blog: http://whatmakesthemclick.net. Buy Now from Amazon
The book suggestion of this week is an excellent read, it's called Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman. The book provide great insights about cognition, why some things are better than the others.Did you ever wonder why cheap wine tastes better in fancy glasses? Why sales of Macintosh computers soared when Apple introduced the colorful iMac? New research on emotion and cognition has shown that attractive things really do work better, as Donald Norman amply demonstrates in this fascinating book, which has garnered acclaim everywhere from Scientific American to The New Yorker.Emotional Design articulates the profound influence of the feelings that objects evoke, from our willingness to spend thousands of dollars on Gucci bags and Rolex watches, to the impact of emotion on the everyday objects of tomorrow.Norman draws on a wealth of examples and the latest scientific insights to present a bold exploration of the objects in our everyday world. Emotional Design will appeal not only to designers and manufacturers but also to managers, psychologists, and general readers who love to think about their stuff.More About Donald A. NormanDon Norman is a voyeur, always watching, always on the lookout for some common-day occurrence that everyone else takes for granted but that when examined, yields insight into the human condition. (If you are rushing to catch a train, how do you know if you got to the station on time? Empty platform? You probably are too late. People milling about, looking at their watches,peering down the tracks? Probably OK. Who needs technology when people are so informative, even if as an accidental byproduct of their activities.Buy Now Buy Kindle Version
We have been posting tutorials pretty much every week for the past 6 years. We believe tutorials are an amazing way to learn how to use the software we need to do our design work. But as you can see, software is just a part of the design process, important but without a good foundation and design principles you won’t be able to translate a good idea into a cohesive design...even if you are a master of Illustrator, Photoshop or any other software. With this in mind we wanted to go a bit deeper in terms of the tutorials we post here on Abduzeedo. Our goal will be to alternate tutorials showing techniques and how to use software with posts on the theory behind the design process. For this first post we want to talk about the first step of a design work. From understanding what the project is all about, to briefing. This is probably one of the most important parts of the creative process because it’s how you will set your strategy in terms of what to explore. The first priority when getting a new project underway is to understand exactly what the project is about. I know it might sound obvious but it’s a little bit more complicated. Below I’ve listed a few important questions I ask myself prior to embarking on a certain design project : What exactly is the product or service I will be working on? Can I explain the product or service to other people clearly and concisely? Who will be using the product? What the audience accustomed to and what we think would be better if we used this product ourselves? What is the vision the company has for their product or service? How much are they willing to commit in terms of radical changes? What’s the product or service? Having a deep understanding of the product you will be working on is vital for your design work. Not only because it gives you the information you need to start designing but this tactic will also give you the motivation to challenge yourself in creating a better product or service overall. If you think about personal projects, we always do things we like because we challenge ourselves to learn something new while making our ideas come true in our personal work. We have all the motivation we need to do that. We control the whole process of the creative process. For professional projects it is the same, once we have an idea of the scope of the project and the possibilities we can strive and innovate. Otherwise frustration ensues and we end up chasing our own tail. “A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.” - Dieter Rams Who will be using the product or service? What is the audience accustomed to and what do we think would be better if we used this product ourselves? We always mention this in our posts or any event we have the chance to speak at but it’s the number one rule for any designer: Who is your audience and what’s the problem you are solving for them with your design? Drawing another parallel with personal projects. When we are doing work for ourselves we are our own audience and that gives us freedom to do things we want or apply our personal style. Rawz - personal project to help users share their inspiration With professional work it is different. That might be a bit of a controversial statement but I believe when designing something for a particular audience we have to understand their needs and the best way to reach them. My personal style might be completely useless. The same applies to trends. As Dieter Rams says “Good design is long-lasting”. Make your design useful and efficient. Trends come and go and if you make yourself a product of a trend you might be useless as well. “It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.” - Dieter Rams What is the vision the company has for their product or service? How much are they willing to commit in terms of radical changes? Gathering all the information about the project is not only mandatory in understanding the product or service but also enables a clear idea of what the company you are working for is willing to commit to the design work. What is the posture towards radical changes? Questions about marketing and branding strategies is very important because this will give you hints on what to explore in terms of design but also on how to justify your design decisions. A lot of frustration we hear from other designers is that people they are working for don’t understand the importance of the change in colors or attention to minute details, or even radical changes such as redesigning from scratch. In really I believe it’s not that they don’t get it, they just need a good reasoning behind such change. In the end, design is not art but business and it has to be treated like that. Innovation comes from change, but we designers find that through iteration, A/B testing, interviewing the audience and a bevy of other ways to justify our work based on real data. Here are some simple questions that the super talented designer and branding expert Roger Oddone usually ask his clients: What's the name of the company/ product? What service do you offer? Who are your main competitors? How does your service differ from them? Who is your target/ existing audience? Do you have any benchmarks? Corporate and brand identity Taiama by Roger Oddone Corporate and brand identity Taiama by Roger Oddone Corporate and brand identity Taiama by Roger Oddone Clearleft, one of my favorites design studios, has a very complete design brief that they share on their Web site. You can download it here With all this information, we hope that you will have all you need to start your creative process and move to the second phase: Research and Inspiration. Stay tuned for more on that topic in our next post....and as always, if you have anything to add to this tutorial, please don’t hesitate to share with us here via comments and external links.