15 May 2011

Cognitive styles

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Tyler Tate
UX designer Tyler Tate explores on Johnny Holland the attitudes, preferences and habitual strategies that determine how people process information.

“We pour over analytics, conduct ethnographic studies, and interview users in order to understand the demographics, goals, and tasks of the people using our product. We create personas, write scenarios, and list use cases. And so we should; understanding who our users are and what they want to achieve is foundational to our job as designers.

But how deep does our understanding of users actually go? Sure, we know their socio-economic bracket, what industry they work in, and the top few tasks they want to achieve on our website. But are there deeper, more innately personal characteristics at work? Can we figure out what really makes them tick?

For over a century, psychologists have been trying to account for the range of individual differences people exhibit when interacting with new information. At the heart of their research lie cognitive styles—the stable attitudes, preferences, and habitual strategies that determine how an individual processes information. Understanding cognitive styles will help us design better experiences for users.”

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