Date: September 7, 2011
Stephen P. Anderson — Independent Consultant

Graphics, eye candy, sexy interfaces— while these aren’t as seemingly strategic as a mental model or BCG Matrix, it’s time to stand up for these misunderstood elements. Aesthetics play just as critical a role in business as picking the right server or insuring your data is accurate. But here’s the catch:  it’s not about shiny buttons or gradient fades in and of themselves. Rather, it’s about “the psychological response to sensory stimulus.” It’s about people and how people respond to these elements.

If we truly care about making things work for people, then we should care about aesthetics, or the science of “how things are known via the senses.” And it’s much more than graphic design…Sights. Sounds. Smells. Motion.  Aesthetics is concerned about all the senses. And it’s about how people respond to these elements (and not the elements themselves).

To understand so-called “eye-candy” in proper context, it’s critical that we stop focusing on particular design elements (rounded corners or drop shadows, anyone?), and instead look at the response that is triggered by these elements. We’ll do just this, looking at a variety of design details, focusing not on their stylistic qualities but rather the cognitive and affective responses these details elicit. In doing so, we’ll skim across a variety of research findings from the last decade that will both confirm and challenge many of our assumptions about design.

About the Speaker
Stephen P. Anderson is a speaker and consultant based out of Dallas, Texas. He spends unhealthy amounts of time thinking about design, psychology and leading “intrapreneurial” teams—topics he frequently speaks about at national and international events.

Stephen recently published the Mental Notes card deck, a tool to help businesses use psychology to design better experiences. He’s also writing a book on “Seductive Interactions” that will explore this topic of psychology and design in more detail.

Prior to venturing out on his own, Stephen spent more than a decade building and leading teams of information architects, interaction designers, and UI developers. He’s designed Web applications for businesses such as Nokia, Frito-Lay, Sabre Travel Network, and Chesapeake Energy, as well as a number of smaller technology startups.

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