Review by Anthony Furia RGD
Author: Susan M. Weinschenk
Publisher: New Riders / Pearson Education
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of pages: 276
Designed by: Mimi Heft (cover), Maureen Forys (inside)
Sequels rarely transcend their original material (The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes back, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day to name a few exceptions), so it’s not undeserved that sequels are often eyed with suspicion. Because of this dubious reputation, the RGD book club was hesitant to add Susan Weinschenk's follow-up to 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People to the reading list. Suffice to say, the hesitance, in this case, was unfounded.
100 More Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People covers a much broader range of topics related to visual communication than its predecessor; taking a deeper dive into the behavioural psychology and neuroscience behind the perception of design and the ever-increasing technologies we adopt to consume it.
As the title implies, the book is a curation of 100 research studies (or things), which are grouped into the following sections:
How people see – Covering insights into how the brain interprets visual information, central focus vs peripheral gaze, and universal shape and form preferences.
How people think and remember – An overview of Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize winning dual system thinking research and the latest findings on memory forming and recollection.
How people decide – The science behind unconscious decision making, the role of external and internal influences, intuition vs logic and the effects of the calendar year on motivation.
How people read and interpret information – A look at disfluency in reading, how nouns and verbs affect people differently, reading on screen vs paper, and emerging communication technologies.
How people are influenced by stories – The integral role of narrative in people's lives, and the effects story structure can have on the release of brain chemicals.
How people relate to other people and technology – Designing for social interaction and cooperation, how emotion affects attention, technology’s effect on Oxytocin and Dopamine release, empathy for robotics and AI.
How creativity influences design - Myths surrounding creativity, practices to enhance the creative process, the affects of sleep and music on creativity, harnessing constraints and tips for creative collaboration.
How people’s bodies affect design – Natural gesture, designing UI’s for movement limitations, AR and VR, utilizing distance in physical space.
How people shop and buy – Integrating the physical and online shopping experience, cash vs digital spending habits, cognitive dissonance, purchasing decision making and reinforcement.
How generations, geography and gender influence design – Media consumption habits, visual appeal preferences, the benefits of limiting choice, designing for sight and hearing impairment for older audiences and consumer power shifts.
How people interact with interfaces and devices – User behaviour research with websites, apps, and video, the pros and cons of gamification, IOT devices and wearables and the future of sensory data.
100 More Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People is not just an interesting read, but a thought-provoking one. At times it had me questioning a few of my own long-held assumptions about design and how people interact with and perceive it. Like the title suggests, I believe every designer can benefit from being aware of the findings presented in this book. Design decisions supported by real world research can aid immensely in removing subjectivity from the design process when presenting concepts to clients or management… that is, as long as the person you’re pitching to values facts over feels.
The only criticism the Book Club had (besides the rather uninspiring design of the book itself) was that some examples of real-world applications of the research used by the creative industry would have served as an even more powerful tool in justifying an evidence based approach to design.
100 More Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People was a well-received triumphant sequel that provided a slew of interesting talking points amongst the group and with the author herself who was kind enough to join us via webcam for a Q&A session.
About the Reviewer
Anthony Furia is the founder and principal designer at Furia, a Toronto-based design firm creating brand identities, websites, print and digital design for clients across commerce, arts, and culture.