Effective Product Psychology & Design – Jerome Ribot (ProductTank London)

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Co-founder and former Creative Director at Ribot – a design agency in Brighton – Jerome Ribot is also the creator of Cognitive Lode, a resource that distills the latest behavioural research into helpful product advice to help humanity understand itself better. He will take you through the design decisions made during the development of the site, with a specific focus on the psychological research applied during the design process to increase engagement and learning.

The Psychological Principles That Power Coglode

Jerome asks the key question – “How do we foster greater learning?” – and highlights a few simple techniques to help people take in and understand complex information. To start with, symbology and illustration are critical because humans – as a whole – are deeply visual thinkers. We generally find it much easier to understand and retain information if it is linked to some kind of visual cue.

In addition to this Jerome mentions what he calls “the Speakeasy effect” – essentially, that people find easy-to-understand words are more trustworthy, and thus are more likely to retain information framed using them. From here, Jerome then suggests a few more useful techniques (which are used on CogLode) which can help you reach your learners.

Revealed Complexity

Overcome “analysis paralysis” by providing graded levels of detail to research. Start with simple overviews, and then progressively layer on additional information. If you’re dealing with highly complex subject matter, then even within the context of more sophisticated inf you can layer in studies according to their complexity.

Pyramid of Learning

Jerome advocates start with “wide”, easily accessibly info to start with, followed by details which are less crucial to generally understand the theory, but important if you need to understand nuances – i.e. narrowing the focus of information the deeper the reader goes (thus creating the ‘pyramid’).

Peak end Rule

We like to finish on a peak, because that’s what we remember from most experiences. To give your learners a great feeling – and an inclination to retain information and come back for more – highlight practical impact and outcomes of whatever it is they’ve just been learning about.

The Power of Infographics

As mentioned earlier, we value ideas that are visualised, and research suggests that “illustrated text” is more understandable that “non-illustrated text”, to an (apparently) statistically significant degree.

Some Notes on Newsletters

CogLode’s have signicantly higher-than-industry-average open and click rates, so they’re a really important tool, and it’s worth touching on some of the key design decisions that contribute to that.

To start with, each email immediately plays on idea that this email is a thing of value, and that the reader is important by leading with this bit of micro-copy – “Brain gems for decision makers“.

From that point on, the newsletter as a whole is designed to use simple visual illustrations, and to minimise the cognitive load on the reader by providing only a single call to action, as well as providing an immediately valuable piece of information within the newsletter itself.

5 Design Principles of Coglode

Boiling down the topics mentioned above, and which Jerome goes into much more detail about, the key principles which guide the design of Codelode can be summarise as:

  1. Focused, incremental and practical
  2. Simple, but never dumbed-down
  3. Education with character
  4. Aesthetically rich
  5. Academically robust

Closing Thoughts

  • Keep your mind open to other industries
  • Bring seeminly-unrelated worlds together to solve problems in original ways.
  • You’re already applying psychology when creating products, whether you like it or not! You should be intentional about it.
  • Put emotion at the core of your product and ask “How do I want to make people feel?”

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