Ready To Inspire: Tammie Lister – Design For Humans Not Robots

Tammie Lister is a designer with a passion for community and users. She runs and tweets as @karmatosed.

  • I am passionate about designing for communities; I love creating ways that people can interact with each other.
  • Sci-fi has taught us that robots don’t do emotion very well. The spark that makes us human is what makes us, us. We have all these modern techniques to help us as we design, but we forget about the passion that we want to inspire in our users.
  • We are 3 brained: Old brain (survival, animal primal), mid brain (emotions, feeling, impulse), new brain (speech, reading, thinking).
  • Multi-tasking is a lie(ish). Humans are only good at doing 2-3 things at once. More than that we feel confusion and frustration. We need simple instructions, to know where we’re going and what to expect.
  • Herding Instinct. We are social animals, we like to interact. We create small pockets within the human herd: Friends, families, conference attendees. Sharing — information, stories, news — we like knowing the latest thing. We are born dependent on each other — born social by our very nature, we don’t do all that well on our own. We mark our lives with weddings, social events, social interactions. We measure ourselves with friends, lovers — more social interactions. But there is a zombie inside us all. Sometimes people will visit your site, blindly wander through, end up in a hole and get frustrated. Don’t expect people to know where they’re going and what they’re looking for. How do you design with this in mind? Lead softly, treat them delicately (but don’t patronise). Make finding easy: What Would Google Do? Their search “simply works.” Allow people to find things easily in your design, don’t hide things. Encourage sharing: Integrate social into site, turning people into promoters. Create safe havens; we find it difficult to open up to large groups of people. Group therapy works because people let their guard down and speak more freely. If you have a forum or allow users to publish personal information, make sure people feel safe and trust you. Recognise that your users are special and not just one of the crowd.
  • The Carrot. The Pokemon effect: Gotta catch ‘em all! People like to collect things, it’s human nature; gamification plays upon that need, delivering positive and negative rewards. Don’t overdose by including every possible gamification trope, though. We learn from play, and that’s what gamification taps into. For example, achievements in World of Warcraft, or badges in Teen Summer Challenge (where users collect badges for completing reading). Gamification isn’t just about completing achievements and collecting badges; Tumblr’s homepage is a leaderboard comprised of the top stories on the site at that moment.
  • Emotional Beings. We like to feel things. If you can create a design that really touches someone, you go straight to connecting to that person. Imagery, colours, copy — there is a whole emotional palette you can draw upon. Sites can use “visual hugs” — little touches that give you an emotional response when you discover them. Use your emotional gauge. How often do you look at design and ask “How does it make you feel?” Try asking that question in user testing. Make it personal; reach out emotionally to the person, allow them to make it ‘a home.’ A personalised area, control over design/colours; greet the user by name, use their avatar, recognise their language. Example: Kickstarter’s Meet the team page. If you have a team page, put faces to names. Willy Wonka interfaces: Those sites where someone is playing, exploring ‘what ifs’, inspires a sense of awe. If you can tap into that emotion, that’s really powerful.
  • Naturally Happy. It’s in our chemical makeup to be happy; we do really well when we’re happy. When you create or design something, make it a positive experience. Freud talks about “The Pleasure Principle”: We like to feel good, on a biological and psychological level. If you have something negative, make it positive. Example: Twitter’s Fail Whale. You miss him if you haven’t seen him for a while! “Turn that frown upside down.” Don’t use “Submit” on a form; you wouldn’t say it in the real world, so why don’t we speak to people as humans? Evernote is a good example of human copywriting. Avoid user pain; simplify choices; keep calm and on track.
  • Great Explorers. We are born explorers. Remember the old Choose Your Own Adventure books? You can design experiences and moments of joy like this, where people can explore your design and site. If you can hide treasures on site that people can discover, it can enhance their enjoyment.
  • These are all aspects of human nature… but what about nurture? You have to be aware of the user’s background, culture, etc. Designers should learn about psychology; you have to know what you’re designing for; this doesn’t just apply to tools and the web medium; you must understand the people you are designing for as well.