On the way to the office you encounter a “WHITE MAN” with a map in his hand who asks you for directions to that touristy spot near your workplace. You start to point out the direction he must take, the exact point on the map where he is and where he has to head. As you are talking, some guys with a sign walk between you two. You continue giving directions. When you finish, you say goodbye with a smile to the “ASIAN WOMAN” you have helped.
If you do not understand how you started talking to a “WHITE MAN” white man and ended up saying goodbye to an “ASIAN WOMAN“, I would ask you to watch this video:
What you saw is known as the “Door study” carried out by Daniel Simons and Daniel Levin. Fifty percent of the people in this experiment were unable to detect the change in the speaker. We humans are blind to certain visual changes.
“Change blindness” is the psychological phenomenon that occurs when we are presented with a visual stimulus and our brain is not able to detect it and transmit it to our consciousness.
In this post, I would like to talk about redesigns to our products and the way they should be carried out without their being traumatic for our users. Change blindness is the perfect example of how useful it would be to channel our users’ attention during redesign processes.
If we are able to design task-oriented systems, we can change what is happening around them without disrupting our users’ perceptions. The explanation for this is that we humans only retain information that is relevant for the task we are carrying out at that moment, and we dismiss the rest.
The odd thing is the amount of information we disregard and how blind this makes us. Here you can see another fun example of change blindness.
Source: The colour-changing card trick
John Henderson and Tim Smith used the “eye-tracking” technique to analyze the reason why people are so easily fooled by this trick. Here are some of their discoveries:
On Redesign and Designers
We tend to think our products have closed life cycles, without communication between one phase and the next. Therefore, the user experience is born and is maintained until the next one replaces the previous one.
Generally it is the egos of the designers with enough power in organizations who push these total changes or revolutions the most. It is often the case that the arrival of a new designer eliminates everything good that had been done previously.
As a designer, I feel deeply tempted towards change, towards rebirth, towards new ideations of systems. But I must confess that for some time now I have preferred subtle evolution to radical change. When we complain about a redesign, we generally do so because of a lack of consistency with the previous design.
There are revolutions that should have never started. I am not talking about revolutions in user experiences or designs that did not work. I am talking about systems that are running, that are growing and that have users who are really satisfied with their user experience. Like in the previous videos on task-focused systems, we’re talking about users who, due to a bad redesign, have lost the focus on the task. We’re talking about the new iOS7.
Buttons that lose affordance, loss of metaphors and inconsistencies in the language of the icons, less intuitive navigation, buttons that apparently disappear from the keys, new animations that confuse existing users…
Design is not a discipline limited to planning the appearance or usability of objects. Design is the search for the right object to produce and the right plan for how to produce it.
Was the best object to produce sought with the iOS7? Probably not. If it had been, the result would have been progress and improvement on the terrific previous versions. The result of leaving the best designer in the world in charge, without any control, was the start of a revolution with unforeseen consequences.
Follow @NoamMorrissey Tweet