Design For How the Brain Functions

Great article on UX (at Smashing Magzine) from Charles Hannon.

We should not be held to existing patterns just because the human brain prefers it. But we can design according to our developing understanding of how the brain functions.

This is simple, really. We need to better understand the primary receiver that we’re transmitting to: the human brain, and adjust to it as it evolves. Otherwise, we have no clue what kinds of signals to transmit to make sure our message is received.

I recall a keynote from Dr. John Medina in which he highlighted how very little we actually know about the human brain. But we’re learning more at an increasing pace. We need to use that information to improve communication, learning, design.

We can progress gradually, building on fundamental elements of existing designs so that new interaction designs retain enough of the old that our brains still recognize them.

We’re seeing this with mobile navigation. Which navigation pattern should we use? Which icon do we use? The brain never really needed an icon for a menu until smart phones came to be. We can introduce something new, but in most cases, we need to relate it to something old and familiar.

Most importantly, we need to understand the brain (as much as possible), and how it functions, in order to design for it.

(via Judy)

Recommendation of the Week

A few months ago Jane Bozarth tweeted about a new bluetooth headset she was using and loving.

I had recently purchased a Plantronics single-ear bluetooth headset and promptly left it in Pittsburgh, so I was in the market, but was hoping to find something cheaper.

Lg HBS 700 earbudsout lg

The HBS-700 from LG is half the price of most headsets, and also the best one I’ve ever used. It’s simple, comfortable, and has great audio. My kids call it my nerd necklace, but I don’t care. I rarely even remember it’s hanging around my neck. I use it on road trips and in my office to listen to music and podcasts, and the touch controls are easy to remember and access.

In addition, the battery life is incredible. I have yet to use the thing and have it run out of juice, even over several days of regular use.

One final, really sweet feature is the magnetic earbuds. When you’re not using them, they quickly snap in place when you get them near their housing. Genius!

Anyhow, I love this thing. Go get one.

Mobile Now, Not Later

In case you missed it, this is a great recap of Luke W‘s “Mobile To The Future” presentation by Jeffrey Zeldman. I had the pleasure of seeing Luke present at Penn State Web 2012. I’m happy to see Zeldman’s thoughts on the matter. It’s a great post. I’ve read it three times.

In summary:

Dump the “start from desktop” mindset. Start from what mobile can do.

Mobile is a massive new mass medium.

Designing for it today forces us to adapt and optimize our solutions.

Designing for mobile moves us toward the future (but we need device APIs to make it work).

Tools for Developing mLearning

My presentation at mLearnCon was on the Tools stage, run by Neil Lasher.

I was asked to present on tools for developing mLearning. I could have covered all the rapid dev tools that claim to output for mobile. Instead, I focused on free and cheap frameworks or application tools for developing mobile content. Think application or performance support instead of course.

I absolutely love David Sparks iBook, Paperless, as an example of mobile performance support. The first page has a screencast tutorial teaching you how to use the book. Think outside the box a bit. How could you build something like this to support your audience?

Resource Links (I hate that they don’t work in SpeakerDeck)
Responsive WordPress Support site for this presentation
Simple mobile application (view it on a device) built using jQuery Mobile
Cellcast Examples
Float Mobile Learning Primer
ADL mLearn Guide
mobl21 Workflow
A Game of Phones (from Hybrid Learning and Czarina Games)