100 Things

I really didn’t know what to expect before diving into Susan M. Weinschenk’s 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. But based on the reviews and the recommendations, I had to give this a read.

Spoiler alert 🙂

The beauty of this book is that the topics that are covered are all very relatable. After all, it’s about people and the sometimes silly things we do, say, and think. The difference is that the book provides solid data around the motives for our thoughts and actions. Not to mention, the points that the author makes are for the purpose of designing for humans.

The book is divided into these categories:

  • How people see
  • How people read
  • How people remember
  • How people think
  • How people focus their attention
  • What motivates people
  • People are social animals
  • How people feel
  • People make mistakes
  • How people decide

There were so many obvious yet brilliant points made that my book has more dog-eared pages than not. For the sake of brevity, I’ve included my favorite points/resources below below…


  • All capital words aren’t necessarily harder to read – we’re just unused to reading them as such. Capital letters should really only be used for headlines (sometimes) or when you need to get someone’s attention.
  • Design with forgetting in mind – if some information is really important, don’t rely on people to remember it.
  • If you have a brand new product that you know will not match anyone’s mental model (representation of something that a person has in mind – which is why we had skeumorphism earlier on), you’ll need to provide training to prepare people to create a new mental model.
  • People process information best when told as a story. Bear this in mind when trying to make tutorials or demos livelier.
  • People like to feel that they are making progress. Including small signs of progress – especially during onboarding – can motivate people to move forward to the next step in a task.
  • When you are designing a product that has social connections built in or implied, think about whether those interactions are for strong or weak times.
    • If you are designing for strong ties, you need to build in some amount of physical proximity, and make it possible for people to interact and know each other in the network.
    • If you are designing for weak ties, don’t rely on direct communication among all people in a person’s network or physical proximity.
  • When you’re designing a product, think about the interactions that the person will have with it. Do the interactions follow the rules of a person-to-person interaction?
  • Write a good error message that…
    • Tells the person what he or she did
    • Explains the problem
    • Instructs the person on how to correct it
    • Is written in plain language using active, not passive, voice
    • Shows an example
  • If you foresee that you product may be used during stressful situations (e.g. healthcare) make sure to design for this so stress-induced “tunnel vision” doesn’t get in the way of a person accomplishing what needs to be done.
  • If you need to provide choices, limit the number of choices to three or four. More choices doesn’t mean higher conversion/engagement.



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