Jun 25, 2013

Picture This


This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

Engagement > Immediacy>

Easy to picture

images speak louder than abstractions
(Edward Tufte, Detail of Dance Notation
Redrawn from la Cuisse, Cailleau & Mlle Castagnery, 1762-64)
Easy to picture means your audience can form a mental image of the relationships between the various the elements of your proposition, and the relationship of your proposition to the world. Images make
these relationships directly apparent.

Pictures can demonstrate emotions, issues, or solutions concisely and immediately. Infographics and data visualisations make it easier for our brains to grasp the relationships between different pieces of information. When you read text, by contrast, concepts and relationships between elements must be put together in your imagination, word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph.

Because of the way our brains work, relative assessments are more immediately available to us than absolute assessments. That is, it's faster and easier for us to evaluate one concrete thing against another than against an abstract standard such as a unit of measure. Compare the three data-representation formats shown in the Figures below.

Data in Text Format
Data in Table Format
Data Visualized
Relative comparisons are inherently more available to us than absolute comparisons because of the way our brains work. It’s faster to assess the data in a table than in text format because the layout makes it easier to compare similar values directly against each other. Data visualization is better still because the relationships among the data are even more obvious. Good data visualizations make the relationships in data more cognitively available to us.

When you must use text, prefer concrete descriptions (that can be pictured) to abstract explanations, and frame your message within a narrative. The human brain finds it easier to picture stories than bare facts.

Bottom line

  • Show, don’t tell, the value of your proposition.
  • Use imagery and concrete descriptions in written copy.
  • Frame your communication as a vivid story.


Is this how you see things? ...or have I missed the bigger picture? Share your view. Leave a comment below. Please engage.

This post is part of a series on building customer engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.


Jun 18, 2013

Emotions are Faster than Facts


This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

Engagement > Immediacy >

Easy To Relate To

shared emotions (Matsys)
Easy to relate to means your customer feels like the proposition was created for someone like them, with their concerns. It means they empathize with the proposition's tone of voice and personality of the proposition. Align the presentation of your proposition with the emotions of your customer to reduce the effort your customer must make to understand their own feelings about your proposition. This, increases the chance they will consider your proposition further.

Use graphic design and copy to create empathy. For example, Hipmunk, a travel site, labels its flight and hotel search result sorting options using words that describe the way travelers feels:  agony, ecstasyDropbox also gets the tone right, with simple, yet playful graphics and copy that strike a balance between leading non-tech users by the hand and keeping tech-savvy users interested.

Hipmunk: not afraid to talk about feelings.
Dropbox: sets the tone with copy and graphics

Bottom line

  • Strike the right tone. Use visual design and written copy to reflect a well-defined emotional state, aligning with that of your audience.
  • Use personas to help identify and define the right tone.


Confused? Enlightened? I'd really like to hear how you feel about these post. Leave a comment below. Please engage.

This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out  my other blog.

Jun 11, 2013

Don't Over-Think


This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

Engagement > Immediacy >

Easy to Understand

Great design communicates implicitly
Easy to understand means people recognize the purpose and use of your design without thinking about it. Easy to understand means: users subconsciously recognize the design affordances. For example, a button that looks like a button is far more likely to be pressed than a button that looks like, say, a picture.

Simplicity, in the sense of a small number of design elements or very few choices, contributes to making a design easy to understand. If a design looks complicated, people won’t pay attention to it. Recognition of the right choice from among two options is more immediate than a selection from eight options. In fact, choosing becomes exponentially more difficult with each additional option.

The Nest Thermostat is easy to understand
The NEST thermostat is an example of easy to understand.  It's design lowers cognitive effort by i) displaying the temperature prominently, and thereby clearly signalling the purpose of the device; and ii) removing the need to think about setting it, through learning and automation.

Images of flies on urinals in JFK and Schipol airports are also examples of easy to understand design, as are speed bumps on roads. People respond to these designs with the desired behaviours without thinking. In the case of the urinals, men naturally aim nearer the drain. In the case of the speedbumps, drivers naturally slow down.

Written copy should be simple. Keep sentences short and grammar simple.  The meaning of a sentence written in passive voice is less immediate. Active voice sentences are immediate. Avoid adjectives.

Bottom line

  • Less is more. Achieve simplicity through minimalism.
  • Every feature and element of a design should be focussed on one single, clear proposition.
  • The proposition should solve a problem the user knows they have.


What do you think? How do you make your proposition easy to understand? I'd appreciate your suggestions and thoughts. Leave a comment below. Please engage.


This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out  my other blog.

Jun 3, 2013

Mobile First; not Mobile Only


This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

Engagement > Immediacy >

Here

Omnipresence (Escher)
Why mobile first? …because it’s at the tip of your customer’s fingertips, right under their nose, were they are very likely to notice it. We pay more attention to opportunities and threats that are nearer to us in space for the reasons we pay more attention to threats and opportunities that are nearer to us in time. Evolution has hardwired the response into our brains.

mobile-only is not enough
King (maker of Candy Crush Saga) recently announced it was about to overtake Zynga (Farmville) in terms of daily active users. One of the key reasons credited for this success is that “you can start off playing it at your desktop on work through facebook, pick it up on your ipad at home, play it on your iphone or your android device while you’re on your compute. They allow you to play and pick up the same game across platforms." (CNBC 2013). In short, your game is where you are, close by. Note that, although mobile first is a good start, mobile only is not enough. If you need more convincing about the need for cross device propositions, see Google’s multi screen world report.

In addition to cross-device availability, there are several strategies to make propositions feel like they are physically closer. The simplest way is to make them bigger. Bigger objects appear closer. This is why headlines are big. To get attention, actionable elements, like buttons, should also be as large as possible (without damaging the overall design).

Ads at the top, where you 
look first
Another way to make propositions seem closer is to position important design elements where people are looking. Elements above the fold on a web page (the portion visible without scrolling) will get more attention than elements below the fold. Items at the top of a list are more likely to be selected than items lower down. Elements in the top left of a screen are more likely to be noticed than elements in the other corners (Nielsen 2006). “Buy” links that are closer to the product image are more likely to be clicked than those more distant. Eye tracking technology can give deeper insight into what parts of the screen people are looking at. Why not put “buy now” links into Google search results listings?

Bottom line

  • Mobile first, but not mobile only.
  • Make important design elements larger.
  • Place important elements where people are already looking (e.g., top of page, top of lists).



What do you think? How do you make your proposition more available? I'd appreciate your suggestions and thoughts. Leave a comment below. Please engage.


This post is part of a series on building customer engagement.


If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.