Win a copy of Node.js Design Patterns: Design and implement production-grade Node.js applications using proven patterns and techniques this week in the Server-Side JavaScript and NodeJS forum!

Victor Yocco

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since May 11, 2016
Philadelphia, PA
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Recent posts by Victor Yocco

Brad,

My pleasure. Thank you for your interest in the book. Please let me know what you think of it after you have given it a read.

Victor
5 years ago
Congrats to the winners. Please let me know how you enjoy the book. Thank you all for the great questions.

Victor
5 years ago
[quote=meenakshi sundar

Most designers should possess huge amount of specific expertise. Be it in field of machines, production and programming languages.
They have a vast knowledge Of materials. And they all combine specific crafts with creativity between hands to head. Would you agree
with that argument ,Where does education material such as your can help designers?

Sundar

Hi Sundar,

Yes, I agree with your argument. Designers are faced with having specialized knowledge in the field they design for such as financial services, mechanical engineers, etc., and the skills and knowledge of design techniques to create effective designs.

Design for the Mind serves as another tool for designers to better understand both their users and theirselves. I advocate research with real users at all stages of design - I'm a researcher by trade - so my book is not meant to replace real data collected from users. However, Design for the Mind can help provide a framework for what designers should fill in with their design. For example, if you are creating a social experience, the chapters covering social influence and social identity will help focus designers efforts on the factors they should address with their design. How they specifically address those factors should be a combination of their personal expertise as well as actual data from users or the target audience. That said, I've worked on enough projects to know the luxury of research and time to think about the target audience is not one that is often available. My book can help identify areas where a design might be lacking, to provide insight into where to start when thinking about improving a design that is ineffective.

Victor
5 years ago
Quazi

That is a wonderful question. Sadly, the current answer is no. But that's a great idea. I will spend some time putting together a post over the next week and I will be sure to update the forum with a link once it's up. I do give a brief summary of each chapter/principle in chapter 1 of the book, which is available for free download here under the free downloads heading: https://www.manning.com/books/design-for-the-mind

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll update you soon.

Victor
5 years ago
Hi Ken,

Thanks for the questions. Here's my take:

Defining UX design is a huge (and messy) task. What I am putting forth in the book is that psychology can and should be added to any user focused design process. I respect we all have processes and I don't necessarily know what works best. I'd say what I put forth is that addressing user psychology is a critical component to overall UX design. I do say in the opening chapter that you aren't doing UX properly if you aren't accounting for psychology. While many designs that are successful account for psychology implicitly, I promote doing it explicitly so that you understand why your design works. I think psychology allows us to better define what we are trying to accomplish with our design (e.g. influence people using social influence methods or frame our communication so we tap into underlying values) rather than saying - "I added a like button because I know people like to like things other people they know post online." We can say our design "allows people to connect with each other and deeper those connections through their similar social identities and groups they belong to."

As far as accessibility, I don't address that explicitly in the book outside of a component of discussing best practices for visual design. Accessibility and meeting accessibility standards is critical. It reflects respect for your users. Accessibility should be a consideration throughout any design approach and process.

Victor
5 years ago
Hi Atul,

Thanks for the question. No, the book doesn't discuss minimalism specifically. I do advocate only having the features and elements needed to create your experience. Extra and less useful design features serve as a distraction. When looking at persuasion, you don't want to distract people from your core message or experience if you have created a good experience.

Your browser address bar doubling as a search engine is a great example. It could be interpreted using a few principles of psychology including persuasion. I also discuss in chapter 4 of Design for the Mind how important it is to present users with the option to engage in a task at the correct time. That's what Google is doing by having the address bar double as a search field. When users are ready to search they can immediately type in their search. No time is wasted, and they don't have to use it until they are ready.

Victor
5 years ago
Hey Brad,

Thanks for the question and for introducing the terms rational and emotional. I could geek out all day talking about this kind of stuff. The principles I cover in my book, as well as the principles I subscribe to in all situations, are firmly rooted in what’s called dual process type of theories. That is, there are multiple processes or factors involved in behavior. I don’t think people are all rational or all emotional in most situations. From a behavior economics perspective, being rational means you make the best decision based on the information you have available. I discuss that in-depth in chapter 3 of Design for the Mind. This isn’t true. People make a lot of irrational decisions on a regular basis. Any decision where you lose more money, time, or another resource than you gain is irrational. Yet people stay in jobs that pay them less than they are worth, they stay in relationships where they have stopped getting value out of the time they spend, they continue working on projects that are losing money for their company, etc. That isn’t rational. On the other hand, people don’t make decisions or engaged in long-term behaviors based solely on emotion. At some point you receive either negative or positive feedback on your behavior, and then the more rational part of your brain contributes to the decision to continue engaging in that behavior. I cover all of the types of things in chapters 2 through 4 and again in chapter 8 in Design for the Mind. People do tend to rely more on emotion or what’s referred to as heuristics when they have to make quick decisions, over more rational processes if they have time or the behavior is considered a planned behavior.

As far as your other questions - I’m familiar with research suggesting attention spans are getting shorter. I’m not able to locate the actual research article, but here is a link to an article about the article: here

Much of the research done on attention focuses on children and adults with ADD/ADHD. While I don’t think having a short attention span is inherently a bad thing, it becomes problematic when we are diagnosing people with conditions like ADD or ADHD if the trend is moving towards a shorter attention span.

Some mass cultural and behavioral shifts that immediately come to mind are use of mobile phones to access the internet, and use of social media platforms. Pew research has found much of the world is accessing the internet through mobile phones. Additionally, they have found that a majority of US adults belong to two or more social media platforms. This wasn’t the case a decade or so ago. I think there are a lot of design implications behind understanding how people are accessing the internet on mobile phones (perhaps not even more modern Smartphones). Also, as I discuss in Design for the Mind, we can influence our users and promote certain behaviors through their social networks.

I hope this answers your questions. I enjoyed thinking about this.

Victor



5 years ago
I'd be honored. Please let me know if you'd like a discount code and I'll pass one along to you.
5 years ago
Sundar,

I do see a trend in focusing on developing the ideas of internal talent - at least among the businesses I am familiar with. A lot of larger firms are moving towards implementing and supporting programs that develop leadership and ideas from the ground up. The term intrapreneur is something that I've found is gaining traction among huge companies like SAP and Nokia Bell Laboratories are developing robust programs to promote business and design thinking from within. That said, I think there is a lot of room for improvement at all levels.

My opinion is that we do not do a good job, particularly in larger institutions, of facilitating the exchange of ideas. Much of this, from what I've seen, has to do with archaic policies that don't recognize the speed of ideas. This is why individuals choose to take their ideas outside in the form of startups. So in that sense, it isn't a bad thing. It promotes entrepreneurialism and turns former employees into the competition. Which I hope would then facilitate change in the larger institutions.

Victor
5 years ago
Hey Paul,

That is an interesting question. I'd suggest a few things:

Try to appeal to their sense of money and time savings - showing them how a lack of focus might lead to the need to redesign the sties sooner than later if they don't account for the business needs and their users needs.
Understanding that trends change, but the core value of their product is that it does (or doesn't) align with their business needs. Users will become confused if they encounter mixed messages or an experience that doesn't seem to convey what they assume they should be able to accomplish.
Look at the competitors -are their competitors addressing their business needs? Does this seem to be successful. Relating this back to Design for the Mind, I discuss at length how users are influenced through social connections. You can look at the folks at the company you work for in a similar way. Can you show them good examples of what is being done by their peers that they should strive to be like? Are there examples of what they would not want to be like? Are there industry influencers you can use to advocate a specific solution?

I hope some of the above helps. Please let me know if I missed the point and I can circle back to try to clarify anything.

Victor
5 years ago
Hi Paul,

I admit I'm biased, but I do think backend engineers will benefit from reading Design for the Mind, particularly if they work on teams with UX folk. You will gain insight into what makes design elements effective. I would argue this will help you understand how and why your product works at getting people to use it. I'd also hope that it would help you contribute to the conversation, perhaps even provide you with language to use when arguing for a certain position on a decision. Even if you aren't the decision maker, you would be able to provide insight. You will also walk away with an understanding of what underlies the goal you and the UX team are trying to accomplish - increased use/purchases/visits/etc and how this might happen.

I'd also say that since Manning Publications is my publisher, a number of the reviewers were software engineers. Some of them provided some excellent insight and feedback on the value of the book. For example, one engineer said they also dabble in design, and the book gave them good insight into some of the consideration they should be accounting for in the design and development of their products.

One thing the book does not cover is any type of code.

I hope this helps and let me know if you end up reading it and find value. I appreciate it.

Victor
5 years ago
Hi Sundar,

Fun question! I agree with you that design thinking extends well beyond visual design elements. I take a holistic approach (which is accounted for in Design for the Mind as well) that includes:

Navigation - how are we helping our users navigate the product through breadcrumbs, search, tabs, icons, and other elements that help with way finding
Workflow - do the tasks users accomplish unfold in a logical way
Information presentation/communication - do we use language and terms that users are familiar with? Do we teach users what we want them to do in a way that is easily understood, also: notifications and alerts - how do we present users with this critical information
User behavior - ultimately you have to account for how your users behave. You need an understanding of psychology as well as insight from research to accomplish this
Systems thinking - I also advocate that design thinking includes thinking about your product as a system. How do your elements and features work together? What happens on Page B if you change something on Page A? There are connections that we need to identify and address whoever we add, change, or remove something from our design.

I hope I answered your question. I think you could ask 10 people and get at least 5 different answers. This is a very expansive topic and I would probably add more once I spend more time thinking about it.

Victor
5 years ago
Hi Lanny,

Thanks for the great question.

I think Design for the Mind principles will meet the needs of multiple user groups. One thing that I want to mention is that it goes beyond the visual factor of design in terms of how to display data that appeals to users. I also focus on how to design the experience so that it will align with users' psychological needs. If you are able to meet your users needs through the design of your experience, then it could be easier for their data visualization needs to be met.

I'll give you an example based on what I understand your question to be - rather than showing you a specific method of data visualization, Design for the Mind will teach you the underlying principles that will allow you to meet your users needs. One way that might work for your situation is providing users the ability to control how/what they see. I cover this as part of the principle of planned behavior in Chapter two. You might want to allow your users to customize how their data is visualized. You'd want to show them explicitly how they are in control of this. Activating the perception of control will make them more likely to use your product and find it valuable. Some tips on this would include having users set up their preferences for how their data is visualized as part of the setup/onboarding process. This will make them aware that they are in control right off the bat. You will also need to give strong consideration to what your default settings will be - we know that most typical users will not adjust their default settings. They are under the impression you have their best interest in mind and (magically) already know what they need. One way to get at this would be getting feedback through interviews around what the needs of your various user groups are. Then, if possible, you might have a default setting for sales, one for marketing, one for operations, etc.

I hope this helps!

Victor
5 years ago
Hi Randy,

Thanks for the compliment. I hope the book does well. I hope anyone that reads it finds value in what it provides.

I think any of the topics I cover in my book would help with client meetings in terms of understanding what leads people to making decisions. You might be able to use a few techniques depending on what you want to accomplish. For example, if you are trying to persuade someone to make an important decision, you want to make it immediately clear why the decision is relevant to their life (or business, or money, whatever the topic is). If people don’t see why something is relevant, they don’t pay attention to the details. Once you do make them aware of why something is relevant, you need to have the important details available. So if you were pushing for a certain design decision to be made, you’d first want to convey why the decision is important, and then you’d need to immediately have information to help them make the decision. At that point, their decision would be based on the quality of the information in conveying your message. This can be written, oral, or visually presented information.

Why did I write this book? You are correct that it is based on my background experience. My education and work history contained a lot of psychology and communication. I studied the psychology of influence and persuasion and communication in settings like science centers and zoos. I looked at how we can design exhibits to convey information to visitors during a visit. When I started working in digital design I saw many of the concepts I studied in informal science setting still held true in digital design settings. Basically designing for use taps into the same psychological principles whether you are designing a tangible experience or a digital experience. I saw a disconnect thought between the theory and how it was (or wasn’t) being communicated to practitioners. I started writing articles about how different psychological principles play out through design. I really enjoyed it and realized I had enough knowledge to write a book. I’m thankful Manning Publications thought the same thing and commissioned me to write Design for the Mind.

Victor
5 years ago
Great question. I don't think there would be one pattern or set of patterns that can be applied to any situation. But that's why we need good designers who are well versed in how people think and behave. Some of what I discuss in Design for the Mind is that learning the principles of psychology can help you understand the underlying factors that lead to people using a product. Knowing these principles can then help you come up with workflows and design elements that facilitate ease of use. However, when we deal with humans, there will always be challenges and unknowns.

Personally, I think that's part of the beauty of design. The challenge of creating something that people will find useful and useable. One of the best ways to keep moving in this direction is through user research. Getting feedback on your design throughout the design process is critical to ending up with a good product. I think psychology and user research are powerful tools to help inform your design.

Victor
5 years ago