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100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. – BOOK REVIEW

In this article I would like to give a brief review on the book 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People (Yep, pretty long title, huh?) by Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D.
Initially this book was a gift to my boyfriend. However he still had another one that he was busy reading first, so this one was just chilling on the bookshelf for a while. Eventually I took it to have a little sneak-peak and it turned out to be rather interesting.
To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I did a book review – if ever? So please don’t expect anything too professional here.

The author of the book, Susan M. Weinschenk, has a degree in psychology. So, the knowledge she offers is based on psychological research in regards to human behaviour. In her book she relates the findings of such studies to design, in particular webdesign. She structures her advice in the following ten parts:
– How People See
– How People Read
– How People Remember
– How People Think
– How People Focus Their Attention
– What Motivates People
– People Are Social Animals
– How People Feel
– People Make Mistakes
– How People Decide

As the headline suggests the focus strongly lies on the human brain and how it works. A lot of the information was different from what I had previously read in design related literature and therefore very interesting. Even though almost all the discussed points are quite compact, I felt like they offered a good amount of depths and insight.
In her 50th point for example Weinschenk uses a highly relatable scenario of a coffee shop using buyer cards for the customers to collect stamps with each purchase. She evaluates whether a card with 12 boxes – two of them already have stamps – or 10 blank boxes gets filled up faster by the cutomer. To close the case with a more design-related topic, she then shows an image of a the web service ‘Dropbox’ which uses a goal system to keep their user base interaction on a good performance .
Although most chapters end with a little reminder of what to avoid or include, I would have liked to see more hands-on examples. Maybe just showing one good and one bad way of designing to explain and support the previous claim. However this book even mentions in the title that it’s about knowing not doing. So I gues  I’ll have to go through certain advice again and figure out the ‘How Tos’ for myself.

To summarise my review I will say that I really enjoyed reading this book. It is well structured, had short chapters and great explanations of the studies she chose to include. I can definitely recommend 100 Things[…] to designers or anyone really who is interested in how our brains have evolved to function.

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