100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People

tags: design

This is a good and necessary book, but I can’t figure out how to handle it. There’s simply a lot of information in it, and it’s all so good, that it prompts anxiety in the reader as to how they can possible remember/process it all.

The book is exactly what the title says: 100 short vignettes about how website visitors think – how they perceive information, what they look at, how they make decisions, etc. Each “chapter” is maybe 2-3 pages long and takes about one minute to read. Each one is supported by numerous references, and is always based around some scientific research. The visual design is light and accessible: colors, illustrations, and sidebars abound.

(The author also wrote “Neuro Web Design,” which I read ages ago. She’s an expert on how the brain works when processing web content.)

The problem is that when I was done, everything was swimming around in my head, and I struggled to figure out what I got from it. To really grow from the book, this is almost what you’d need to do –

  1. Read it with a group, perhaps 3-4 chapters at a time, then discuss

  2. Review a few of them every morning for a month

  3. Keep it handy, and skim it again before every design project

There’s just a lot there. In aggregate, I suppose it opened my eyes to all the different ways humans are fallible and can be coerced into about anything. The book is almost a manual for psychological trickery. Barring that, it would be handy to pull out on your phone at parties to make interesting conversation.

To be fair, the book is geared towards designers, and perhaps content strategists. If you are one of them, knock yourself out – read it, and refer to it often so that it drums into your head.

But for a casual reader who doesn’t practice this stuff day-in and day-out, it’s endlessly interesting, but probably doesn’t have a lot of practical, everyday value.

Book Info