UX/UI Psychology: Cognitive Barriers & Overload

UX Theory does no have to be hard. In fact results most often look ridiculously  “simple”. But like all disciplines, the simplest solution is most desirable, especially when it reduces “Friction”. For example my studies in color psychology helped explain how color affects the mind and decision-making. We want to reduce cognitive dissonance. For example, have you ever had a color just “grate on you” – that’s an old fashion term for cognitive “friction”. Just like color, subtle but important variations in UX can lead to very different results. We can explain some of it using psychology terms. But UX design is not psychology, just as psychology is not UX design. So we should try and find ways to use psychology in our design process to help us to make better, and more informed UX design decisions. Consider for example: Cognitive Barriers and Cognitive Overload - two complementary UX evaluation perspectives.

UX problem solvers have to be multi-disciplinary, active thinkers, willing to take chances, be highly visual, temporal, decision makers, be rational, be emotional, follow threads that lead to understanding, backtrack and find ways to transform rational machine processes into experiences appropriate for human beings. We design UX for People, so yes psychology should be a part of it.

Follow the link to a great, brief article on Cognitive Barriers and Overload: Enjoy!


As designers it’s our job to make decisions about all things that matter to the design of the project or an interface design or an application flow. We are the decider’s. It does not mean that our decision ends up being final, but it is our responsibility to decide and defend that decision.

Deciding quickly and efficiently is what moves the ball forward in any project. Sometimes that decision can be made more in regards to the functional requirements of the project at hand. Hopefully it’s not made arbitrarily. In fact it should not be made arbitrarily. But in the end we have to decide.

The following article outlines some graphic choices designers have made in 2015 related to website design. I think a lot of these choices are related to visual readability and efficiency and website design.

Check it out I think you will find it informative.

Your UI Design Is Covered With “Text”.

If you know me, you know I’m a HUGE fan of “Text”, in fact I wrote a book about Text for children - it’s on Amazon: http://amzn.com/0996214402.

But, when it comes to UI Design and Web Design, the Text font is often predetermined for the designer. OK, it happens. But often that means Arial or some generic looking san-serif font? Of course, fonts do come prebuilt into a system you’re designing for, or to load a different font might be costly or difficult for various reasons, and that’s understandable. But if you are Apple you can afford to think outside the box on fonts. And they did.

Back when iOS7 launched, the Apple Design Team chose Helvetica Neue as their font for all Text. It was a positive step forward. With it’s incredible range of weights, from hair-thin to super-heavy, Helvetica Neue was a great choice. I say “step” because it was the right choice at the time. But when it came time to build iOS9 (and OSX, tvOS, etc.) Apple went to the drawing board to address all the shortcomings of Helvetica Neue drawn on-screen. Result: Apple San Francisco! 

The San Francisco font has been out for a while. It’s powerful. See why Apple designed the San Francisco Font from the ground up. You might like it:


UI Designers, download the San Francisco Apple Font here:


Adobe Product Prototyping Tool - Project Comet.

Being the Adobe fan that I am, even though I also use Axure and other product design prototyping tools, I am super excited to share the news of a new prototyping tool from Adobe called Comet.

Many of my friends who used to be Quark Express and Pagemaker users eventually migrated over to Adobe InDesign. Many a Freehand-user graduated to Illustrator. Cosa users migrated with Adobe on AfterEffects. In fact when Adobe took over AE they visited designers and animators where I worked and we gave them input that was adopted by the app. Have you ever imported layers from Photoshop files into AE? That came from us.

There are numerous essential tools that eventually become the domain of Adobe. That’s usually because we would like to design in Illustrator and Photoshop but the last step - to product prototyping - has been missing. Maybe not anymore. :) Let Adobe know what you need in the app.

Follow the link to learn more about Adobe Project Comet… http://goo.gl/j8b0QJ

Filtering and Sorting Best Practices on Mobile

As user experience and user interface designers we often need to display and offer filtering of large amounts of data, images and text sometimes via tables. This becomes a bigger challenge for designers on mobile.

It’s easy to say “simplify”. But when you really do not know how much Data is required for decision-making, then in the current version of the app you are working on maybe having access to more data is the right decision. In that case how to organize that information? How to filter it to help your users to get the right result consistently?

If you don’t understand the data, the user and the experience needed, maybe it’s time to learn. An interesting read how Amazon does it.


Swiftkey UX/UI Redefined. Nice Job! 

iOS 7 Outline Design Standards Fading… 

Swiftkey released a very nice redesign that enhances existing functionality, making it easier to navigate - using flat and graded color, icons and soft shadows. In a world that need to be simple, color is required. Excellent approach for mature applications with a strong user base.  


The $300 Million Button

Buttons and fields. Who knew there was a problem? 

Great article:


Doesn’t it seem like we have a Million prototyping tools already for Apps and Web sites? We have AppCooker, AppInSeconds, Axure, Blueprint, Codiqua, ConceptInABox, Demonstrate, FieldTestApp, FileSquare … … Pirate … PopApp, Xiffe, xXcope. I’m beginning to think these tools are not very hard to build, so a little  consolidation in the space might be good for the industry. In the mean time we are all the hunt fort the best collaborative prototyping tool, and I think Atomic might be one of the winners. Who knows? So, until the prototype tool war dust settles, all you awesome UI Designers and prototypers out there looking for a cool new tool to mock up your next website, web app, iPhone, iPad or iWatch app… check out Atomic.io. It’s impressive. Useful timeline, Intuitive interface, great Collaboration features and more, plus it works on Chrome. What more could you want? Let me know what you think… Get Atomic.io: http://Atomic.io

Fast Company Article: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3051133/innovation-by-design/is-atomic-the-google-docs-for-designers

Custom Post Images

Text Line Texture by Thomas Hallgren

My first book on design thinking for children was published in 2015. It's on Amazon, the link is below. Hope you enjoy reading it to your children and grandchildren.
Stacks Image 1541
Stacks Image 1543
When confronted out of the blue by a thin red Line, our main character, Text, sets out on a fun path of self discovery. A path that leads to a new friendship along the way. For parents who love to read to their children, Text Line Texture is the perfect introduction into the world of text-only books. Children’s Book. Age range: 4-10.