We know 'Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.' But how do we do this better?

Cognitive Artifacts (complementary & competitive)

I have been thinking about the idea of the extended mind for a couple of years now, and the design of tools as essentially parts of the human mind. Its from this perspective that I really love the work of Bret Victor – especially his ‘Media for thinking the unthinkable’. It was therefore with great […]

Prediction & Surprise in Design

One of the main, overarching, prevailing views of the human mind in cognitive science at the moment is that it is a prediction machine, at pretty much every level of architecture. Philosophers and scientists such as Andy Clark, Karl Friston & Anil Seth describe a picture of cognition in which we (our brains, our minds), […]

The best (though deep and complex) way to design novel, brilliant interfaces

I recently wrote about prototype theory, and how it supports the notion that we should abide by design conventions, or at least introduce new design patterns very gradually. Let’s face it though, that’s not where the fun, the fame and the glory lie. Truly memorable, creative and powerful design is often defies convention and introduces something that […]

Prototype theory & design conventions

There’s an old rule in interface design that you should stick to conventions, not try to re-invent the wheel, and design UI controls and features in the way people would expect them. This guideline is at the heart of many debates in the design world when new UI features start getting used more frequently (for […]

An alternative to Personas

Our understanding of psychology is growing and changing constantly. In universities and research centres, the fundamental concept of what a human mind is, and how it works, is evolving rapidly. The everyday world of work, and products and our daily lives lags behind in this understanding however, and as a result a lot of the […]

What Ayahuasca taught me about design

A couple of months ago I found myself in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in Peru. In fact I found myself lying on my back on a small mattress in the dark with 14 other people, waiting for an extremely powerful visionary and hallucinogenic medicine I had just drunk to take effect. The 6 […]

Genes, Silos & Gollum

It’s just so much easier to imagine that we are all neat individuals, that have consistent personality traits, motivations and desires, isn’t it? It’s so much easier to pitch ideas to clients, and rationalise designs and solutions when we all buy into the illusion of the rock solid self inside all of us. Well, alas, being a […]

Two theories of us

We consume a lot of information these days about psychology and neuroscience. Daily papers and popular magazines almost always include the results of some study or other, that give us further insights into the way humans are – what our motivations are, how we process information, the effects of our emotional states and so on. […]

Humans evolved with tools, and now we can't live without them

University College London Anthropologist Matt Pope has some interesting and clearly true things to say about how tools have shaped our evolution. Our invention and use of technology is a defining characteristic of our species. Few other species use tools at all, and none with anywhere the complexity that humans do. The fact is though, […]

The human body as interface, and a new language of interaction

As it stands, we have moved through a few core paradigms in terms of how we interact with computers and software. From the earliest days of physical levers and punchcards, through text (DOS etc.), onto the GUI and windows/Mac OS type interfaces, and recently now touch, gesture and voice. These last three have signalled a […]

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