A guest blog post by Menno Cramer.

If you are a designer, a freelancer, or you are running an agency, you deal with people. People are humans and humans, obviously, have brains.

Here’s what a neuroscientist has to say on how brains work:

It is the deciding organism in the client’s body on choosing you or your product. It is even the organism that created the product or design you are selling. So it is crucial to understand this grey matter between your ears a little more – from neuroscience to design.

When you have a client, do you know who you are dealing with? Who are you designing for? “That company about chairs,” or “That lady with the pink jacket who came in the other day.” You could know so much more.

That “person” that pays for your services, that “user” complaining about bad user experience, that human entity giving you a job is predictable. Because your client is made of flesh and blood, being a part of nature, after all, being human means we are all gifted with brains.

The decision to choose you for your work was made by the brain. The appreciation or disapproval of your work comes directly from the client’s brain.

How does this brain work?

It’s probably still suffering from alcohol being broken down. Or it might be running on caffeine or nicotine. Whatever that may be, the brain has an innate need for certain things, but also an additional layer, that becomes bigger over time as knowledge grows with culture and fashion becoming readily available to everyone.

The design of a coffee brand should take into account that the buyer is most vulnerable when his caffeine levels are the lowest. It’s true! this will also impact the client’s behavior.

Who is expecting what?

Clients will be expecting the things the competitors offer. If you don’t satisfy their needs, they will think your work is absolute rubbish; independent of the fact whether your work is good or not.

There are no objective clients.

You are designing for 40% nature, 30% culture, 20% fashion or trends and 10% environment. Nature is who they are, how they respond. Culture is that it’s “normal” for them that I’m in that place at that time. Fashion and trends are the comparison between competitors, expectations, and current research possibilities. Environment is the place where the product is received or used.

What someone wants is very difficult to give. You might be in the luxurious position to be able to do some testing but some people find this a waste of time. To some extent, I have to agree.

People use almost everything around them. If something “bad” has been designed, you need a really good marketing campaign, otherwise the adrenaline level for excitement of users will just be slightly lower than the maximum you could have achieved.

If they use the product, complete the task they have to do. Who cares…  The solution is in the detail.

Imagine this. The inside of a plane is designed in such a way that when it crashes, you stay just that tiny bit more calm then you would have otherwise. This could mean that in the crash there are 112 survivors instead of 110. Maybe not a large difference?

Now imagine a particular search engine (which won’t be named but sounds like a microwave being finished) would actually give you the results you need and changes the colour of the button ever so slightly that you get just that little less annoyed when it doesn’t work properly. Just this one percent in online movements or digital behaviors can mean millions of clicks more or less.

Furthermore, brains are loyal. They are so loyal that even when your body has decided to switch to another brand, your brain still works as if it was still using the previous one. The neural code has to be rewritten.

Brains are loyal

Brains act predictably, even if you don’t know how they will respond to your product. Try to create a scenario which you do know they’ll respond to. It is all in series like electricity circuits. Your brain interprets stimulus after stimulus. This leaves neuronal traces. Traces you can pick up, you can use. Prime them in a response which is preferable for the outcome you need.

A user therefore does not really exist in the sense that we use it. The persona is irrelevant, as the persona is only a small part of what you have to do. Of course these percentages are just put down as example and they will change by gender, ager, product, culture, audience, etc. But it is your job to anticipate that. Who is your client, the body or the brain?

Have you tried digging into the brains of your customers? Can you certainly say that you understand their needs based on their own perspective and not yours? Share with us what you think.

Author Bio



MENNO-PAGE1Menno Cramer is a Neuroscience + Design Consultant.

Follow him on Twitter @neurodesigned or @mennocramer.