100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People Summary By Susan M. Weinschenk

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The 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (2011) book offers an understanding of the fundamental nuances of design.

Through a variety of research studies and real-world examples, readers gain insight into how people think, how they make decisions, and how their memories are essential to creating good designs.

The book provides insightful revelations that can be applied to all types of design projects, from website creation and logo design, to product development and user interface design.

It's an invaluable source for those who want ideas on better ways to reach target audiences, craft strong messaging that resonates with customers, or build a successful brand identity.

With its comprehensive approach to understanding people's preferences, it's a must-have for any designer looking to create better work that produces successful results.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Book Name: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (The essential guide for every designer from a behavioral psychologist)

Author(s): Susan M. Weinschenk

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 16 Minutes

Categories: Creativity

Author Bio

Susan M. Weinschenk is a renowned behavioral psychologist, who has used her extensive knowledge to better the fields of design and user experience over the past 30 years.

She is well known for her much-read blog What Makes Them Click, and this book, "100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People," is her second publication.

As an expert in her field, she provides crucial understanding on how user behavior can be applied in the best way possible towards design and user experience which makes her work invaluable in these industries.

Understanding the Cognitive Functions of the Brain: How to Create Great Design that Grabs Attention and Stays in Memory

Cognitive Functions of the Brain

If you want to create great design, then you need to understand what makes it great.

To do that, start by understanding the way people think and how those thoughts lead to reactions about the things we see.

That’s why an understanding of human cognition is so essential for any success designer, established or trainee alike.

To uncover the science behind what drives certain responses in people, you’ll explore facts like patterns help create visual order, stories are powerful tools in understanding concepts and evoke memories, and empathy guides our actions with mutual understanding.

With this insight into how people think, you’ll be able to discern just what it takes to make great design which will grab your audience’s attention and stick with them well after they leave.

Make sure that you take some time to find out what comprises exceptional design – because that will set your creations apart from all other designs!

Why Is It Hard to IgnorPeripheral Images? We’re Anatomically Programmed to Use Our Peripheral Vision

At the core of human navigation is the reliance on both our central and peripheral vision.

Our peripheral vision is what allows us to take in all the objects and colors around us, picking up information about a scene without having to look directly at it.

This serves an important evolutionary purpose; it helps us stay alert while also staying engaged with our tasks.

Our central vision, on the other hand, helps us focus on individual objects.

We use this part of vision to identify patterns in our environment and make sense of things.

An example of this is seeing four pairs of dots as one pattern rather than eight individual ones when arranged in a straight line.

Noticing patterns like this makes it easier for us to process sensory information quickly and efficiently, which can be incredibly useful for navigating through life in general.

How to Create Information that Sticks: Tips on Breaking up Data and Using Progressive Disclosure and Forgetfulness

Progressive Disclosure

If you want to make a good product, it’s important to break down the information associated with that product and have a thorough understanding of memory.

This is especially true if you are conveying information, such as in a presentation or advertisement.

Your brain can only process information in small chunks; split up whatever you’re trying to communicate into pieces no bigger than four elements.

An example of this is how area codes divide American phone numbers into groups of three and four digits.

Another approach to making information more digestible is progressive disclosure, which means streamlining the consumption process by providing information gradually and breaking it down further into clickable subcategories.

Lastly, don’t discount the importance of forgetting; although it may not seem helpful, forgetting certain things can be beneficial.

For example, if everything was remembered, then all those memories would become too much for the brain to handle!

Therefore, design your product for forgetfulness – include important features and make them easy for people to look up if need be.

Remember Information and Tell Stories to Make Your Design More Memorable

When it comes to making sure that your message is remembered, stories and clear organizational systems can be incredibly useful.

That’s because they help make complex ideas more easy to digest and suitable for long-term memory.

Your short-term memory has limited scope, so encoding information into your long-term memory can be difficult.

To aid this process, it’s advisable to repeat any new information you come across, connect it with something previously known and use it in context.

Repetition can bring on physical changes in the brain: traces are formed which allow memories to be retrieved more quickly over time.

Categorizing content into clearly-defined groups can also help reduce the amount of overload and ensure there is a logical structure when delivering your design.

When creating categories for content or using subtitles within text layouts – bear in mind how people like to process their information in story form.

An organised story plot (like the three-act structure created by Aristotle) typically involves introducing characters and the situation in an opening section, providing obstacle resolution methods during the middle part, before finally arriving at an end scene with a climax or conclusion.

The Importance of Imitation and Empathy for Social Interaction

Social Interaction

When designing any product, it is important to keep in mind human behavior.

People naturally desire to connect with one another and feel empathy for each other, both of which are achieved through storytelling cues that act as triggers for our mirror neurons.

Likewise, people buy into rigidly following social guidelines and appropriate behaviors; if someone speaks unexpected or non-sensical language when responding in conversation or a website is unresponsive and slow, customers will be put off.

Creating products with a focus on user empathy and understanding the rules of social interaction sets you up for success.

Nurturing an environment which enables users to connect deeply with your product means they will enjoy using it more and ultimately lead to greater customer satisfaction.

Make sure when developing your product that it observes the fundamental principles of connecting with users by enabling them to empathize, interact thoughtfully with others, and having design features constructed around established social rules.

Design Your Product to Encourage Flow States and Minimize Distractions

People’s minds are constantly wandering, and this can interfere with their ability to stay focused on tasks.

However, it is possible to encourage a state of flow with well-designed products.

A study from the University of California showed that people estimate their mind wander 10 percent of the time, when it is actually closer to 30-70 percent when doing simple activities such as driving on an empty highway.

Therefore, if you are designing a website or other product, it is important to factor these distractions into your design in order to keep people focused.

For example, it could make sense to break up the content on the page with images or video clips instead of large blocks of text that are difficult to take in at a glance.

This will give users the feeling of being engaged while also staying on track with their goal.

In addition, creating opportunities for users to experience a “flow state” is key.

Flow states occur when someone is deeply focused on a task and block out all other distractions.

To foster this state while using your product requires minimizing distractions so users will be less likely to get sidetracked and more likely to experience flow while completing their goals.

Designers Should Use The Goal-Gradient Effect to Motivate Users and Make Their Experiences More Enjoyable


The 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People book summary shows that it takes more than just the promise of achieving a goal to motivate people.

It’s also the dopamine – a chemical in the brain that controls our pleasure system and regulates how much enjoyment we feel – that encourages us to keep going.

Think about social media platforms: those red notifications give us an adrenaline rush, which is a dose of dopamine, and makes us crave more so we keep using the app.

That’s why these types of apps are so addictive!

The same goes for design projects: you have to provide frequent feedback to experience flow state while using your design.

This can be done by sending messages that update users with information on their performance or giving them visual clues as they go along so they know their end goal is close.

This technique is often called “the goal-gradient effect” – when the finish line seems within reach, our motivation accelerates and encourages us to push forward towards success.

The Pros and Cons of Too Many Choices: Designing for Maximum Ease and Control

People naturally want to think that they maintain control over their choices, but the truth is that many decisions are made unconsciously.

When given a plethora of options, a person may feel overwhelmed and end up randomly choosing something without knowing why.

This presents a challenge for designers, who need to create environments that provide the illusion of plentiful choice while still staying within the boundaries of whatever product they’re designing.

For example, when looking at an Apple store to purchase an iPhone, you may be given options in terms of color, but all options are still Apple phones with no difference in quality among them.

Within reason, providing people with the illusion of control over their choices – through things like color pallets – can help maintain satisfaction even in cases where real control is not on offer.

Designers must consider both perspectives when creating something new – too much choice could leave people feeling confused and underwhelmed while no choice at all could lead to frustration and loss of satisfaction.

In this way, it’s important for designers to remain mindful of how decisions are made by people in order to design spaces that provide the utmost satisfaction for users through their seemingly autonomous choices.

Wrap Up

The 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People book serves as a great reminder that designing effective products comes down to understanding the human mind.

It’s essential for designers to take into account how people think and learn, memory mechanics, and decision making when coming up with a successful product.

In conclusion, there are plenty of actionable tips in this book that designers should use while working on a product.

One key takeaway is to incorporate unpredictability into designs in order to increase user engagement and keep them coming back for more.

For example, sound cues can be an excellent unexpected element for users who expect a seamless experience when using an app or website.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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