Things to know about people

To get ready for an upcoming project, I’ve been reading up on user psychology. Thought you might fancy a couple (3) tidbits from my studying:

 People remember only four things at once.

 An urban legend from the 50’s suggests we can remember up to “seven, plus or minus two” items at a time. Since then, science has discovered that we actually only remember FOUR.

So what? – When presenting people with figures, options, stats – any kind of info – keep it down to four items.

People tell what to do with an object based on how it looks.

 Mug handles, squishy buttons, fingerholes in scissors – all of these things invite you to put your hands on them in a certain way, which naturally leads to appropriate ways to use objects. Think of how stupid it is to have a handle on a door that says ‘push’.

So what? – Make buttons look pushable, use shading or highlighting to show an object is selected or active, consider how your hover effects could be better represented on touchscreen devices.

People become addicted to seeking information.

 The dopamine and opioid systems in your brain work together to make you seek out pleasure, then feel satisfied when you get it. We also then learn how we can get more pleasure, so dopamine kicks in again to make us seek some more. When it comes to deriving pleasure from information, our brains find it increasingly harder to stop checking Twitter, Facebook, email, online shopping and research sites.

So what? – Make it easy for users to seek small bits of information, then reward them when they get it. This trains them to seek some more. This is how shitty games like Farmville become addictive.

That’s it for now. All of these tidbits came from my favourite schoolbook atm, 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People.

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