Learning about cognitive science at the NoVA UX meetup

For our February NoVA UX meetup, John Whalen (PhD Cognitive Science Johns Hopkins and Founder, Brilliant Experience consultancy) shared his insights and experience about cognitive science with the group. Using videos and interactive examples, he shared learnings about how we perceive, remember, and make decisions, and how those concepts can be applied to user experience design.

NOVA UX Meetup, AddThis (Feb. 2013)

He began by talking about memory, perception, and the systems of our brain that control them. Since our attention is easily distracted and much of what we think we see is actually constructed by our brains, as designers we can use techniques such as visual cues and story-telling to guide viewers through interfaces more effectively.

Next, John walked through how we make decisions based on what we perceive and remember – and how easily those memories can be lost. He gave an example of a checkout process that offered a discount code at the beginning, which was forgotten and inaccessible by the end when payment was expected – not a good experience indeed. He then walked through strategies that designers can use to enhance interfaces that help the viewer make decisions such as registrations or purchases, such as:

  • asking for smaller commitments to build up to bigger ones
  • providing social proof – others who bought this bought that too
  • giving perceived control to the viewer – “build” your dream car

For more details, check out John’s slides and join us for upcoming meetups about designing for behavioral change, e-commerce, and usability testing.