Book Review: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

After reading Susan Weinschenk’s 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, I found it a great reference for solving design problems. Susan breaks the book out into 10 self-contained sections that discuss the psychology of how people see, read, remember, think, and feel.

Susan does a great job of keeping each topic very digestible, with simple language, while still going deeper with a more scientific approach to things.

This book promises to answer questions every designer has had over the course of his or her career. I know I’ve asked a few of these questions myself:

  • What line length for text is the best?
  • Are some fonts better than others?
  • How can you predict the types of errors people will make?
  • What grabs and holds attention on a page or screen?

Each section is packed full of valuable information about how and why we humans think the way we do. One of my favorite sections was about how people see. A lot of the things in this section were basic reminders, like how red and blue colors are hard on the eyes when used together. Others were more in depth, like the various meanings of colors throughout different cultures, and how people see cues that tell them what to do with objects. The latter is especially important in user interface design, because if you want your user to click a button, it should look like a tactile button.

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

For web and user interface designers, I would recommend the sections about how people see, read, focus their attention, and decide. The takeaways from these sections were especially helpful in designing interfaces.

Overall I found this book a staple during my work day, I often refer to it when trying to solve an issue when I have to ask “what would the user do?” I would recommend this book to all of my fellow designer friends or to friends who are just interested in learning about how people interact with things in general.

You can purchase Susan’s book online at Peachpit in paperback and ebook format. Use our Peachpit User Group coupon code (UE-23AA-PEUF) to get 35% off your purchase.

Recap: From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web - Molly Holzschlag

This month we were honored to welcome Molly Holzschlag to Refresh Detroit. Molly is considered one of the godfathers godmother of the Web. Her talks centered around “From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web”. As an advocate for open standards, she outlined how the open web allows for the empowerment of all individuals via global access.

She started her talk with a quote from Hillman Curtis that I am very fond of and wanted to share:

“Be prepared to reinvent yourself. Be prepared to go out on a limb occasionally, and be prepared to do the things that you feel strongly about”
- Hillman Curtis

I’m not going to give you a play by play of her talk because she was kind enough to let us record it. The full audio is available below and on Soundcloud.

A few things that stood out for me while she went through her presentation and interacted with the audience were:

  • Setup a personal advisory committee, no one person knows everything about the web.
  • It’s survival of the most adaptive, not survival of the fittest.
  • On the Web nothing matters, browsers, OS, data format, or language.
  • The definition of “open” often means transparency. But the preference is to mean authenticity.
  • The many things rule: Never look at one thing and thing it is just one thing.
  • Adopt a error forgiveness. We cannot know it all.
  • ARIA is the important piece that most Web sites are missing.

Molly gave us five main points to move forward

  1. Support existing content
  2. Ensure interoperability
  3. Define the user agent behavior (Solve problems from real-world issues)
  4. Better handle errors
  5. Evolve what we have

Some pictures from her talk