Top 10 Things You Need To Know About People – Susan Weinschenk #BWCBend Keynote

October 14th, 2013

Bend WebCAM logoSusan Weinschenk, @thebrainlady, authored How to Get People to Do Stuff: Master the art and science of persuasion and motivation. In this book she lists many ways to do so, and here she’ll share a top 10 for us.

10. People do as little as possible.

She shows us a picture of 16 pennies, each a little different and only one is a true penny.

penny

People only remember the salient — the immediately relevant. When we design we need to have people in mind, how they think, perceive.

9. Maximum of 20 minutes thinking at a time.

 Susan Weinschenk

Susan Weinschenk

Glucose gets used up in the brain and after 20 minutes the power of thinking is gone. People spend an average of 7 seconds looking at a work of art. A museum wanted Susan’s help to get this time to lengthen. She told them that museums were exhausting and they should design their layout to give people breaks. The museum was shocked and there was yelling and refusal. She didn’t expect her finding to be so controversial.

Thinking Fast and Slow is a book that covers two ways of thinking. System 2 thinking is hard, effort-full thinking, like solving 17 x 24. System 1 thinking is intuitive ad fast, and is our normal mode of thinking, happening 80% of the time.

8. Most mental processing is unconscious.

40 billion nerve endings / sensory inputs at any second. You’re only conscious of a small fraction. People only take action when they’re sure. They may not understand consciously why they’re sure. A lot of what you need to do in design is make people feel confident.

7. People have limited memory space.

She’s asking us to take a memory test using pen and paper; she’s hoping that people have some handy. She flashed 4 letter strings on the screen for about 8 seconds, then turned the image off, waiting 5 seconds before she says we can write it down. The second set on the screen are strings of letters, many familiar ones like FBI, CIA, IPOD and HP. Many more people got these letters but not the first. The second were chunked in a way that was recognizable.

People can remember 7 +/- 2 things. Have you heard this? It’s a myth. It was posited in a thoery about a limit to how much people can remember. The number is actually 3-4 things that people can remember. Not only can they remember 3-4 things, but they can only deal with that many things.

jam

More people stopped to taste the greater number of jam, but far fewer people purchased, and vice versa. People want a lot of choice. They like choice. A business may want to put many options on a page for their users. If you say that it will confuse their consumer, they still want all of them. But we know that fewer choices mean more sales. It’s a paradox we have to fight.

Choice = Control = Survival

6. We are more motivated by fear of loss than by anticipation of gain.

Central vision is the thing you look right at. Peripheral vision is what you see outside the central focus. In a test, it showed that people were quicker to figure out what the picture was if they saw the central blocked out and the peripheral showing rather than the reverse.

5. People use peripheral vision to get the gist.

Perpipheral vision is also very sensitive to images of danger, as makes sense when you think of vision developing on the grasslands where animals that saw predators in their periphery were more likely to pass along their genes.

Don’t discount stuff on the edges of the screen. That can be an important part of the design as you’re trying to get across a certain feeling or message.

4. The Fusiform Facial Area (FFA) makes us pay attention to human faces.

This special part of the brain does 3 things: is this a face, is this a face I know, what emotion is on the face. The FFA is active in babies as young as 6 hours old — you’re born with this. Be careful with your use of faces, like this case in point from Marquette University.

faces

3. Speaker and listener brains sync.

She brings this up to say that audio and video is very important. Note that there’s no brain syncing when someone is reading.

Next she’ll show us 3 sets of controls and we have to write answers down.

How would you get luke-warm water from these faucets?

faucet

Which direction would you turn the round knob for the red needle to move to the right?

knob

When the audience raises their hands, most say B.

Label the quadrants A, B, C and D — whatever makes the most sense for you.

quad

What happens when we let our expectations of how things work influence our designs? This exercise showed us that what makes sense to you isn’t a shared opinion. Most designers today are Millennials, which are a minority in the population. Don’t assume your way of thinking things should work is shared by your customers.

2. People have mental models of how things should work.

You have to understand that mental model if you’re going to design for them.

And the last but not least thing to remember:

1. People expect technology to follow human-to-human rules.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Design is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams


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