Masthead (39k image)
Home » Archives » June 2005 » Design Psychology [Previous entry: "Help"] [Next entry: "Jackasses and Inspiration"] 06/19/2005: "Design Psychology" listening to: NPR - Car Talk
feeling: Good. I love a big breakfast and a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.

Okay, so my problem relates highly to Nicole's.

I am doing a little research on the psychology of design because I hope to learn something useful for my work as a graphic and web designer. More than just a set of rules though, what I am searching for is a set of questions.

Design questions always have more than one possible correct design answer...but the research into interaction design (at least that I have seen) rarely leaves room for that possibility. What I am searching for in my research is less an answer or set of "best practices" but an understanding of the general principals that are innacted through there "best" practices.

I am approaching it like physics. Newtonian mechanics worked, until we were able to go fast enough or observe small enough to make the concept of absolute time irrelevant. As it turns out, Newton was right, under specific circumstances, as may well be the "rules" of design and "best practices" of design, web design, marketing, interaction, etc...that we believe to be correct now. But like Newtonian mechanics, it could be coincidence that it's worked thusfar. As people change, just as the scale and speed of physics changed, that serendipidously/coincidentally true condition of our best practices will be removed or made false, and the system will fail.

We've already seen major changes in web design as computers have become faster, larger sites have gotten more complex, graphics and graphic designers lost their fear of the web, and databases became d'rigeur for even small personal sites (like this one and most 'blogs). As bandwidth increases across more economical background, we even see graphics themselves becoming more coplex, "prettier", and larger.

Through all this, however, we have not seen interaction design change significantly on the web for some time. Something, beyond acceptance, budgets, and bandwidth, is going to have to change before we realize that interaction may be less governed by this coincidental analog to time, but instead by a more universal psychological truth.

What we need, in order to discover this truth, is more design that flys in the face of the "best practices" developed by software developer types and works will either in spite of it, or because of it. Only then can we track backwards to the common thread of these designs and hopefully strike upon some universality.

How much better would it be if we could all design based on a universal truth of human interaction, and not an artificial set of "best" practices? It would free us to be true to our message, and create for our audience, instead of being correct. It would be the world wild web all over again.

Replies: 1 Comment


On Monday, June 20th, Nicole said

This is exactly why I enjoy being a part of this family. Although we all have our own individual interests the connection between all of us is large enough to ensure that we will desire more knowledge about similar things. Currently for Jon and I it is the questioning of human needs and how to best supply these needs. For Jon it might be more related to Web design and for myself it is about architecture. The overall idea is that the world of design is missing out on the realm of thought and both of us have the desire to figure out the appropriate line of questioning to assist designers everywhere, or atleast these two designers. blush