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Secrets of Effective Design -- Consideration of the Human Elements

This is another excerpt from my book "The Ten Living Principles -- The Craft & Creed of Transformative Digital Design"

The Underpinnings of a Design Consumer

These people  who use our designs,   possess   and exhibit the five aggregates,  or skandhas  of sentient beings  when consuming our designs:   matter,  sensation,  perception,  mental formations  and consciousness,  according to Yogic philosophy.    This ancient Yogic delineation  of a sentient person,  also describes perfectly,  a modern digital,  human  experience,  either with  a device,   in a web page  or using an app or computer program.
The matter  is the content  or the physical incarnation.  The sensation  is how the person   experiences it.    The perception  is how  and what  the person  sees through the lens and filter  of his or her own experience.   Are they turned off by it?   Are they intrigued by it?   The mental formations are what they think of it.   Remember the term thin-slicing  from a previous chapter?  Users rarely change their minds after they have made a snap decision  as to whether to like it or not.   
And finally we come  to consciousness  in the context of  the state of awareness,  subjectivity or sentience.    Consciousness encompasses  awareness  and feeling.   You want to tap to that  to make your designs resonate  with the largest amount of people who consume your designs.    As a matter of fact,  you want your designs  to attract viewership,  AND have them feel good about it.
Taking the lead from Mignot's saying  of "Art without Science is nothing",  the personal  experience of design  is broken into three sub-domains of interest   when it comes to studying  the ergonomics of design  and how it affects  the personal  experience.   They are the physical,  cognitive  and organizational human factors.   

Physical Aspects ~ Fitting in the Humans

The physical sub-domain  deals with anthropometric,  physiological  and bio mechanical characteristics  as they relate to human action.   In the real world,  I saw a very good example  of this.  I was shown the inside  of the very famous M1A1 American battle tank.   It was  and is  a formidable weapon.   It's  designers  assumed  that the tank driver  is a scared 20-year old reservist  from an urban center,  thrust into the heat of battle.   The human factor ergonomics   incorporating this precept,   were amazing.   To move the tank forward,  you pushed a joystick forward.   The turret rotated by whatever way the joystick was pushed as well.   You didn't have to think to drive it  or fight it.   In contrast,  I saw a British tank  where you cranked a wheel  near your knee to turn  the turret one way,  and reached over your shoulder and turned a knurled knob to reverse direction.    It would not rate high in usability  experience,  and illustrates perfectly, the necessity  of  taking into account,  the art and science  of physical ergonomics.

First You Must Get The Manual Out Of The Garbage

In device design,  it means that you must be able to  figure out how to use it  without instruction and a manual.    In web design,  a good physical design  means that to do an action,  you do not need to scroll across the screen  with your cursor  twice  to reach menu items,  and  you don't  have to scroll down  to  read the entire value proposition  of the message  that you are trying to convey.   Everything that is needed  is close together,  and placed intuitively  where one would subconsciously expect it.
If you are a font designer,  the physical component  means that the font  can be read from up close  or afar.  When it is shrunken,  the words  do not all blend together  or create something  that confuses the eye.   In graphic design,  the design elements  should draw the eyes  into the value proposition,  rather than distracting  the view to all over the page  or screen.   A person  shouldn't have to work hard  when absorbing the features of any design.

Mental And Cognitive Aspects

The cognitive sub-domain  is concerned with  mental processes,  such as perception,  memory, reasoning,  and motor response,  as they affect  humans  in the elements of a design.    This means that the design  should induce positive feelings.   It should not contain  discordant things  that cause mental dissonance  or cognitive dissonance.  It should  engender  engagement.   It shouldn't  be work.   If there are words,  they should be attention-grabbing.   The design should  mentally motivate people   to accept its message  or value proposition.   It must fit  into the organizational domain  that it was made for.

Cogs And Gears In Their Places

The organizational sub-domain deals  with many factors of  physical  and virtual environment.    In what organizational context  will the design be used?   Who will participate  in  using the design together?   Is this a participatory design?   Is this a social design experience,  or a solitary one?   Was it meant for work groups,  or family groups?   This is the chief design criteria  and consideration   for social networks like Facebook  or Twitter. 

Don't forget  that design  not only involves the visual element,  but the gears and wheels  or the code behind it  to make it work,  as well as the structure  required behind it to support it.   The structure includes  both the operational structure  and the audience structure.   The two  go hand in hand.

Excerpt from "The Ten Living Principles - The Craft And Creed of Transformative Digital Design"



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