Understanding People’s Perception


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Every good designer ought to know a thing or two about the basics of human perception if he or she is looking to better understand the impact of his work on the public. Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. has written an amazing book about on the topic, called 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People and we heartily recommend you read it as it is filled with valuable information delivered in a clear and direct manner. What’s most important is that assimilating this knowledge gives you an edge in this fast-paced industry. In today’s entry, we’d like to share with you a few things we learned from the aforementioned book.

Can you trust the eye?

To begin with, the eye – one of the most complex organs in the human body – is only a means for people’s perception of the world. Once the image travels with the help of light to the brain, that’s when the real magic happens. Every single individual forms their own interpretation of what they see and a lot of variables come into play, such as expectations, knowledge or familiarity of what they’re looking at and more. Holding this in mind, you can come up with ways of persuading people to view things in a specific way, depending on the presentation. Take a look at the Kanizsa triangle below. Even though there are no actual triangles depicted, your mind still perceives them. By knowing how to tweak certain elements of shape, color and pattern you can influence what people see or draw their attention to the elements you want them to focus on.




The Science

Now for some technical stuff to make you better understand how it works. Everyone knows that light enters through the cornea and leans, and the latter focuses an image on the retina. Now get ready for a real shocker: the representation that is formed on the retina is a two-dimensional object – always. It doesn’t matter if in real life it’s a three-dimensional object because we first perceive it as 2D and only after the image gets sent to the brain’s visual cortex, do recognition patterns take place and renders everything 3D. That part of the brain is particularly important in the process as it is the place where as many as 12 tracks of information are sent and interpreted. Once they get there, different regions tackle various sorts of data. For instance, on only responds to motion, another to color, whereas another to edges. The neat part is that all this information ultimately gets blended into only two tracks: one for determining whether the object is moving and another for describing the location of the object in relation to the subject.


That, right there, is the visual cortex


The object of grasping all of this is to make you a wiser designer. If you’re careful and mindful of the ins and outs of human perception, you can gain the upper hand when you have to do a particular project. Always seek to better understand your public as best as you can, because this will enable you to better speak to them through your work!





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