Thought Leadership

7 +/- 2 Things the Software Industry should Know About Cognitive Psychology

The capacity of the human brain to process information has remained the same—even as the number of types of users for software-based Internet connected devices has increased at an exponential rate. The field of psychology, especially cognitive psychology has, among other things, focused on understanding the processes by which we store information, make decisions, and communicate with others. Understanding the research and the theories of cognitive psychology can help information architects to create better user experiences.

Add and Edit are NOT the same!

A while back when in a meeting with a client we were discussing the interactions of a system we were designing and one of our development leads spoke about an “Add/Edit” screen that can be used whenever the user wants to either add or edit their content.

ARGH.  I really went nuts inside.  Sure from a development perspective it might be a lot easier to use the same screen for both add and edit – it happens A LOT.

From the user’s perspective “add” and “edit” are two completely different actions. Each should have a uniquely designed interface!

The end user doesn't read the source code!

For way too many years we have used that phrase to explain to developers that it is important for them to try to understand their users.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

When it didn’t work, we tried to explain about users using most of the standard, and many of the non-standard techniques:

Lorem Ipsum or Content Strategy: Your Choice!

Content strategy has emerged as a key component to a successful web-based project. Much like User-Centered design (UCD) is essential to create a good user experience, the basis for a good content strategy has always been a keen understanding of end users and the context in which they access your information, an understanding of the business goals of the website, an understanding of the target terminology and nomenclature used.

How to write (and file) a usability bug

We once thought that filing many bugs would get the attention of the development manager, and that they would have no choice but to address our concerns about the interface quality-or lack thereof.

We did learn that in order to get anything fixed, you do have to have it filed as a bug (or enhancement) in a bug tracking system and that the bug has to be clearly understandable, and be actionable.

Here are some of the elements that we have found make a good bug:

QR Codes and a Mobile Optimized User Experience

QR codes have become very popular in print advertising because they can provide a direct link between the physical and virtual worlds. They can also significantly increase the conversion rate because they can deep link into very specific areas of your web presence that is most appropriate to that user.

Aim for the middle

We’ve designed a lot of user interfaces over the course of our careers, and one theme has been present across them all--a desire to create something that is easy to use for the novice user. Can mom use it, many clients have asked?

This approach may be great for a small company or for a simple website that perhaps users would only access once or twice. But what about mobile or web-based applications where the users do “their work” each day using the application?

Pages