The Sweet Spot
On software development, engineering leadership, machine learning and all things shiny.

UXweek Day 3 - Perception

Prof. Temple Grandin - Colorado State - “Autism, Drawing and Design”

  • people with autism have sensory sensitivity because they perceive details
  • “if you want to understand animals, you must get away from language.”
  • people w/ autism (and animals) focus on details, but not on gestalts
  • the normal mind tends to drop out details
  • those that switch from hand drawing to CAD usually do fine. Those who only do CAD when asked to do hand-drawing make all sorts of perceptual mistakes.
    • We need to switch back to hand-drawing
  • Autism is about bottom-up thinking
    • Seeing details vs. the whole picture
  • the brain makes file folders to categorize things into. Autistic kids have trouble making these folders
  • sensory-based thinking is very specific: a man on a horse and a man on a foot seem like completely different men.
  • Visual thinkers think with their subconscious
    • Grandin can see the decision-making process in pictures! Also, she has no subconscious.
  • Inability to think of abstract concepts without visual picture to match to.
  • In normal people, the language cortex covers up much of the visual, musical and verbal thinking.
  • Designing for Grandin: things are too complicated. make them simpler, so they “just work.”
  • We need to develop the talents of autistic kids as individual specialists
    • Visual - poor @ algebra
    • Music & math
    • Verbal - poor @ drawing

Martin Ware - Sonic ID - “The Future of Sound”

  • does 3d sound installations in various places
  • public spaces, for a good experience, must be beautiful, neutral
  • how should electric cars sound like?

Alexa Andrzejewski - Adaptive Path - “Designing for Make-believe”

  • Too often we copy instead of innovate
  • Improve a product here and there based on technology results in only incremental improvement.
  • people innovate only on what they know and see.
  • Just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s desirable. With new “augmented reality” apps, people can violate social conventions by pointing cameras at each other.
  • Activity: find the most interesting thing in the room. Now imagine it’s the next century’s new ___.
  • Called “body-storming”, or “tangible futures”

Jeffrey Veen - MyFonts - “Great Designers Steal”

  • Good design isn’t just about plain copying – after all, you don’t know why the original designer chose to do what they did.
  • Must understand first why they did that
  • then take that and apply it.

Steve Gundrum - Mattson - “Designing Foods and Beverages”

How to design food and beverages to maximize profits?

Every product only has five ingredients:

  1. Expensive ingredients (e.g. packaging)
  2. Commodities (e.g. wheat, syrup)
  3. Water
  4. Air

Folgers vs Starbucks Heinz vs. Grey Poupon Tropicana vs. Sunny D Kellog’s Granola vs. Bear Naked

Your nose heavily influences your sense of taste.

Seminar Day 3: Todd Wilkens - “Making Thinking Tangible”

“Design is a full-contact sport.” In design, you’re asked to collaborate with people and gather feedback from everyone. How can we make the design process clear, simple and smooth? By making our ideas tangible.

What does tangible mean? When everybody’s on the same page and thinking the same thing.

Symptoms you lack definition (of a solution)

  • varying interpretations and expectations
  • feature creep
  • misalignment

The biggest challenge is getting everyone to agree on what your project is!

  • Use design to illustrate strategy.
  • Prototype the thing you don’t know vs. what you already know.

Symptoms you lack tangibility in research

  • findings are just a list of complaints
  • you know what people are doing but not why
  • varying interpretations and expectations on same data
  • unclear implications of study

People are:

  • bad at predicting own behaviors
  • good at recalling own behaviors
  • bad @ explaining why they did things
  • bad @ focusing on things they don’t care about.

Have users draw a diagram of their internal thinking processes. Ask them to use a “map” to make tangible and draw out workflow.

Tangible Iterations

  • Rapid design iteration
  • Ideas are neither scarce nor fragile.
  • feel comfortable going forward
  • the 7th idea is usually the best one, so get the first six out of the way!
  • you have a large set of designs to evaluate and evolve
  • safe context to fail forward
  • can separate individual feelings from design ideas

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