3 UX Secrets only Dr Don Norman can tell you


A product might be beautiful, it might be functional and if we can tell stories about it we can make it reflective as well. Its also true that pleasant things work better. Because when a person experiences Intense fear, it paralyzes. It actually affects the way our brain works. Fear and anxiety help us to do depth-first processing- to focus and not to be distracted. Hence there are 3 aspects of a product that makes it delightful to use.

When you are anxious you squirt neuro transmitters in the brain, which focuses you and makes you do depth first processing and when you are happy, or in positive valence, you squirt dopamine into the prefrontal lobes which makes you breadth-first problem solver. Now you are more susceptible to interruption, you do out of the box thinking. This is what happens in a brainstorming session where its announced no idea is a bad idea, and we play games, and ensure that there is no criticisms and we get all the wierd neat ideas. So to solve a problem, make the problem solver happy first and there is a better chance of he/she solving the problem.

Visceral level of processing

We like bright colours, mammals like fruits and bright colours, we dislike cold or hot climates, we dislike loud sounds, we dislike scolding voices, frowning faces, we like symmetrical faces etc. Our brain dislikes something first by first doing a visceral level of processing the information. So while designing always take into consideration the visceral aspects of the design. If done right, the brain will automatically like it. We can facilitate the visceral processing of users brain by carefully selecting the fonts and colors used etc. Its all about the visceral experiences why we do not throw away wine bottles even after the wine is over. Because it gives a great visceral experience. So we keep it in our showcase some way.

Behavioural processing

Most of our behaviours are automatic. These behaviours are done by the subconscious mind. Behavioural design is all about feeling in control which includes usability, understanding and feel. This feeling is influenced again by the control we have on the product or feature of the product. Why we love the behavior of a sports car on a demanding curve? Because the driver feels completely in control of the driving through a curve.

Cognition & Emotion

Cognition is about understanding its being safe in the world. Emotion is about interpreting it as good, bad or safe or dangerous and getting us ready to act

Reflective processing

The third level is reflective. Its the little voice inside the head the keeps saying something is good or bad. This is the voice that speaks when we buy a product that satisfies our ego like the Hummer or some expensive watch. Because its not about the watch or the vehicle. Its all about our ego.

Visceral Vs Reflective

In some experiences, the visceral feeling gets pitted against the reflective feeling. This is what happens when we decide to ride on a curvy, adventurous ride in a theme park. The visceral feeling will force us to stay away from danger, but the reflective voices inside our head say its ok if you ride you will get admiration from others.

Featured Speaker

Dr Don Norman, Director, The University of California, Design Lab

Don Norman is Director of The Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego. He is cofounder of the Nielsen Norman Group, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, IDEO fellow, and former Vice President of Apple. He serves on numerous boards, helping companies make products enjoyable, understandable, and profitable. His books include Emotional Design and the Design of Everyday Things: more at www.jnd.org