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About this book

Learn to create seamless designs backed by a responsible understanding of the human mind. This book examines how human behavior can be used to integrate your product design into lifestyle, rather than interrupt it, and make decisions for the good of those that are using your product.

Mindful Design introduces the areas of brain science that matter to designers, and passionately explains how those areas affect each human’s day-to-day experiences with products and interfaces. You will learn about the neurological aspects and limitations of human vision and perception; about our attachment to harmony and dissonance, such as visual harmony, musical harmony; and about our brain’s propensity towards pattern recognition and how we perceive the world cognitively.

In the second half of the book you will focus on the practical application of what you have learned, specific to interaction and interface design. Real-world examples are used throughout so that you can really see how design is impacting our everyday digital experience.

Design is a responsibility, but not enough designers understand the human mind or the process of thought. This book explores the key factors involved and shows you how to make the right design choices.

What You'll Learn

Review how attention and distraction work and the cost of attentional switching

Use Gestalt principles to communicate visual grouping

Ensure your underlying models make sense to your audience

Use time, progression, and transition to create a composition

Carefully examine controlling behavior through reductionist and behaviorist motivation concepts

Apply the theoretical knowledge to practical, mindful application design

Who This Book Is For

The primary audience for this book is professional designers who wish to learn more about the human mind and how to apply that to their work. The book is also useful for design-focussed product owners and startup founders who wish to apply ethical thinking to a team, or when bootstrapping their products. The secondary audience is design students who are either studying a ‘traditional’ visual design course, or a UX/interaction design course who have a desire to learn how they might be able to apply mindful design to their early careers. Finally, a tertiary audience for this book would be tutors involved in teaching design, or peripheral, courses who may wish to incorporate its teachings into their lectures, workshops or seminars.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Attention and Distraction

Abstract
Attention is a precious mental resource. Every day we are bombarded with decisions and trivial things we need to remember. What should I wear today? Should I even get dressed? Can I just hide under the duvet until June? Where did I leave the keys? Is there enough milk left for cereal? Even though we can seemingly instantly and instinctively answer most of these questions, there is a very real cost attached to each and every one of them.
Scott Riley

Chapter 2. Vision, Perception, and Aesthetics

Abstract
In 1872, a painting was painted. Now, in the 1800s, lots of paintings were painted. But this particular one was an important one—and not just because it's my favorite painting of all time. This painting is Claude Monet's Impression, Soleil Levant (Figure 2-1) and I love it, in part, because it embodies the Impressionist movement, one of the most beautiful, and beautifully dysfunctional, marriages of art and science in history. I'm going to spare you the full meandering history of Impressionism and post-Impressionism, but I'd implore you to do some further reading if you're in any way interested in art, bohemia, or anarchy. What is important to understand is the insight Impressionism gives us into some of our brain's perceptual processes.
Scott Riley

Chapter 3. Learning and Memory

Abstract
To explore how humans learn as a species is to explore the very cores of cognition and emotion themselves. In its most reduced model, learning is simply the transmission of information from sensory input into long-term memory, with a few checkpoints along the way. In a wider sense, there are infinite ways in which we can learn things and seemingly infinite categories of learning we can partake in. Furthermore, learning is not just about committing a fact to long-term memory—learning a skill is as different from learning a fact as it is from developing a habit, yet all can be viewed as some form of learning or memorization. Some things, like our native language, are learned early on in life, without us really having a choice or making a conscious effort. Others, like playing a musical instrument or riding a bike, require enough deliberate practice for us to eventually treat the act as one of muscle memory. As we discussed in Chapter 1, the ability to delegate complex tasks to our subconscious plays a large role in cognitive economy. Once a task requires little to no conscious attention, it becomes less taxing to perform, allowing us to apply focus elsewhere—should we need or wish to—while we perform it.
Scott Riley

Chapter 4. Expectation, Surprise, and the Musical Interface

Abstract
While the link between design and music might seem tenuous, forced, or even nonexistent, music has proven to be one of the oldest and most informative media we can study—providing us with insights into areas of cognitive psychology and neuroscience as varied as cultural convention, anticipation, surprise, intuition, and emotion. When we break music down into its constituent components, such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre, we're able to explore one of the main tenets of art as a function of the mind: its core lies in the organization of stimuli.
Scott Riley

Chapter 5. Reward and Motivation

Abstract
Insomuch as one can break the implicit fourth wall in a book like this, I'd like to do so and state that this chapter has been the most difficult to write. Not in the sense that the subject matter is the most difficult to grasp (although it's hardly a field of consensus and empirical evidence), nor that the research was particularly overwhelming, nor in the sense that it's difficult to draw parallels or explain the concepts in as plain a form of English as they allow. In truth, I knew this would be the most difficult before I even started this book, simply due to the expectations for such a subject matter.
Scott Riley

Chapter 6. Designing Environments

Abstract
I've never been particularly fond of the word “user.” Despite its permeation in the digital world, there's something inherently cold about referring to human beings as “users.” I'm even less fond of the term “User Experience (UX) Design.” While I don't disagree with the core concepts of UX Design, and I feel that the artifacts produced and the research conducted in these practices are extraordinarily important, I can't shake the idea that “user” is reductive and “experiences” cannot, really, be designed.
Scott Riley

Chapter 7. The Design Stack

Abstract
After a highly theoretical chapter, let's jump right into some practical discussion. Chapters 8 and 9 will explore the early-stage design process from two different angles with the end goal of providing a unified, practical approach to incorporating many of the theories and practices we've discussed so far in this book. In Chapter 9, we'll take a look at several underused and new concepts that I feel we can weave into our design process. However, in this chapter, I'd like to explore the practices—and their resulting artifacts—that are, first, well set up to incorporate these findings with almost no disruption and, second, already part of myriad established design processes.
Scott Riley

Chapter 8. Emotion Mapping

Abstract
As an interlude between our discussions on the design stack, I want to present what I've affectionately been referring to in my head as “the Post-it Chapter”—namely, because everything in here involves a heck of a lot of Post-its.
Scott Riley

Chapter 9. The Anatomy of an Interaction

Abstract
We have spent a good while extoling the virtues of systematic approaches to design by diving into an exploration of the more granular, moment-to-moment interactions that form the building blocks of our interfaces feels opportune.
Scott Riley

Chapter 10. Responsible Implementation

Abstract
Everything we've explored throughout this book has, I hope, presented a counterpoint to the often insidious and exploitative methods of modern tech products. Beyond this, however, I hope the studies, concepts, and suggestions within have—even in the tiniest of ways—contributed to a shift in your mindset or approach to designing and building digital products. I truly believe that by embracing openness and exploration, by creating products that can be used in many different ways, and by treating the workings of the mind as insightful allies rather than obstacles that we must hurdle or manipulate to achieve success, we can lay the foundations for a more sustainable, compassionate approach to design and, ultimately, technology as a whole.
Scott Riley
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