Friday, May 30, 2014

This week in EID – Episode 6

This week really spanned a wide variety of topics.  I was going to say that it spans a wide variety of interesting topics, but I suppose that is up to you to decide.

Monday looked at one of my favorite topics, so I hope you found this post interesting.  Affective cognition is the term for what I consider a counterintuitive but critical aspect of the way we (humans) think.  It seems to us most of the time that we are using either logic OR emotion. But we (in cognitive neuroscience) have learned that to the two areas of the brain are so inextricably wired together that every decision we make is actually made up of both processes – working together or at odds.  This post looks at a particular application of this idea – having a system monitor the user’s emotional state to customize the way it works accordingly.  The trick is knowing what “accordingly” means.      

It is not often that I get to talk about mating rituals in a human factors post.  That alone made it a fun one. But when it also gives us some good insights on improving safety, that is an added bonus.


This post has already received some input (thanks Jaime!).  It is a design for a calendar widget that I am conflicted about.  There are some interesting ideas encapsulated there, but I am not sure the implementation works.  I am really interested in what others think.


This post covers another of my favorite topics, in this case priming.  This post focuses on the mental models we get about products and brands. But priming happens all the time in just about everything we do.  A totally unrelated thought can prime the next one if they are contiguous. I just read a great summary of several studies on this, which I will be posting about next week.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This Week in EID - Episode 5

Monday - We started out the week with a piece from BUMP CEO David Lieb on Cognitive Simplicity.  Making things cognitively simple doesn’t mean shortest and fastest.  It just means easiest.  That requires knowing something about how people think.  Good thing we have HF pros around.

Tuesday - On Tuesday I talked about using comics as a design deliverable.  These can be really effective at presenting the design narrative because of how well they present action and emotion.  Give it a try and tell us how it was (in the comments section on the blog, if you don’t mind).

Wednesday - In the alliterative title award post, we talked about giving users peer data to evoke behavioral change.  It is amazing that as much as we think we are driven by logic and reason, we really just want to fit in. It makes sense adaptively.  Running around the savannah 100,000 years ago, insisting that you were right is a lot more likely to get you killed than going along to get along.  This explains a lot if DM heuristics.  Apparently, we evolved not only to do this, but to hide it even from ourselves.

Thursday - Thursday’s post talked about a pet peeve of mine – people designing based on instinct (which is OK) but then thinking that their common sense makes them an expert.  Sometimes that can work – like making eggs and toast.  But not when designing information-rich visuals.  Sorry, but you need some training.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

This week in EID

I was thinking about sticking to a theme this week, presenting four pieces that all present designs for which I have serious questions. 

Take for example the web-enabled smart toothbrush that uses an accelerometer to examine your brushing skills and social pressure to get you to brush in the correct schedule.  Ummmm, not so much.  

I also question the benefits of this new kind of crosswalk design that blends the sidewalk into the street.  The visual attention requirements of this design make me really afraid that it will cause a lot of confused pedestrians to walk right in front of a car.  

Then there are also the infamous epic fails of collaborativefiltering algorithms.  These are the ones that use what your friends like or two products that are often purchased together to make recommendations.  These suffer from a lot of challenges but just as often give me a chuckle about some of the dumber mistakes.  

But I broke the theme with my post on First Responder Gloves.  This is a good improvement, at least from the article I cited.  It can save lives for first responders to have better gloves – their own lives and the lives of the people they are treating.  Perhaps this makes up for all of the questionable designs from the other posts.  

Friday, May 09, 2014

EID Summary of the Week

Another great week at the EID Blog.  It’s almost like I write these posts myself J. 

First, we started out with a piece on native advertising.  This is a really hot topic throughout the marketing world, but just a blip on the radar in UX.  What I find fascinating about it is that it combines a lot of psychology, emotion, ethics, business, technology, design – just the kind of . . . . . hyper-disciplinary (if I may coin a term) topic that gets my cerebral juices flowing.

Then on Tuesday we hit one of my other favorite topics, using paternalistic nudges to improve important behaviors like food choices.  I shared a great new idea from the Smarter Lunchroom Movement.  If you haven’t heard of that, make sure to check out my blog post and the organization.

On Wednesday we took a step back (figuratively) with a look at background monitoring.  Not for security or anything Big Brother-ish but to model your behavior and give you feedback on how to improve.  I used the example of TV personality Galvin on Galvin, who came up with the great idea to have his teleprompter shut off when he slouches, forcing him to sit up straight.

Then we closed the week (yeah, the blog is on the 30 hour workweek) on Thursday with a post from two of my favorite sources: Innovation Hub and TED.  Both of these had stories on human resources subjects that caught my eye.  With my special powers of insight, I found a parallel between them and shared them.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

EID Summary of the week

There were some good EID posts this week. 

Do users scroll: This post elicited a ton of responses when I cross posted it on Linked In.  But it never ceases to amaze me how often people comment based on a title and ignore the actual post or article. I titled this “Do users scroll or not” on Linked In and half of the comments talked about the Nielsen study or something totally irrelevant to the topic of this post, which I THOUGHT was the distinction between visual and cognitive attention.

Nerdflex glasses wax:  I love the basic message of this post – that UX is often about creating simple solutions to the everyday annoyances in our customers’ lives.  Nerdwax is just one example that caught my eye.

Sgt. Star US Army Recruiter: I am getting a lot of material from NPR shows lately.  This one comes from On the Media.  They highlighted some of the revealing differences between the questions that potential recruits ask of a human recruiter or a robot.  Even when the potential recruits know that someone can listen later (or may even be “monitor this call for quality assurance”), they ask more embarrassing or politically incorrect questions of the robot.  Even though the human and robot recruiters are both instructed to give exactly the same, US Army approved, answer. 

Email notifications: The message of this post is that in any design, you need to at least hit the basics.  For email notifications this might be the effective date of whatever balance you are getting, the expected delivery date or what you just ordered, or when you r loyalty program points will expire.  These are the kinds of things that all users need and can make the difference between customer delight or customer frustration.   Then once you have this down, you can try out some of the branding messages I talked about last week.