Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What you say isn't what I hear

"We think direct written and verbal communication is clear and accurate and efficient. It is none of those," writes Seth Godin. The implication: "Plan on being misunderstood. Repeat yourself. When in doubt, repeat yourself."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Getting Lost in Buildings

Donald Norman wrote about designers who can't figure out why users can't use the products they've designed. Boing Boing reports on a study by psychologists on why users get lost in award-winning buildings:
"Architects, on the other hand, may be among the class of people with very strong spatial skills, because their craft requires numerous spatial transformations, such as needing to envision 3D space from 2D depictions. One unanticipated consequence of such abilities is that they may not be very good at taking the perspective of a user with poorer spatial skills, and therefore may not be able to fully anticipate where users may have navigational difficulties within their buildings."

PowerPoint and Cognitive Science

Good design is more than making things pretty; good design communicates. IO9 posted on How Cognitive Science Can Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations based on a lecture by Stephen M. Kosslyn, author of Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations.

Here's an overview:
1. The Goldilocks Rule: present the "just right" amount of data. Never include more information than your audience needs in a visual image.

2. The Rudolph Rule: make information stand out and highlight important details — the way Rudolph the reindeer's red nose stood out from the other reindeers'. If you're presenting a piece of relevant data in a list, why not make the data of interest a different color from the list? Or circle it in red?

3. The Rule of Four is a simple but powerful tool: the brain can generally hold only four pieces of visual information simultaneously. So don't ever present your audience with more than four things at once.

4. The Birds of a Feather Rule is another good rule for how to organize information when you want to show things in groups. "

The examples in the original post are worth reading.

Thanks to Boing Boing.