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Design for How People Think by John Whalen

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Chapter 12 Memory: Expectations and Filling in Gaps

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Memory: Expectations and Filling in Gaps

In this chapter, we’re going to consider the semantic associations our customers have. By this, I mean not just words and their meanings, but also their biases and expectations (Figure 12-1).

Some of the questions we’ll ask include:

  • What are the frames of reference our audience is using?
  • What were they expecting to find?
  • How were they expecting this whole system to work?
  • What are the stereotypes, mental models, or schemas influencing those expectations?
  • How do the customers’ stereotypes differ from our expert schemas or stereotypes?
  • What changes can we make to ensure that we’re meeting customers’ expectations?

Figure 12-1

Decision making (and inhibition) require the frontal lobe’s anterior-most areas

Meanings in the Mind

Let’s go back to the idea of stereotypes, which I mentioned in Chapter 3. These aren’t necessarily negative, as the stereotypical interpretation of “stereotype” would have you believe—as we discussed earlier, we have stereotypes for everything from what a site or tool should look like to how we think certain experiences are going to work.

Take the experience of eating at a McDonald’s, for example. When I ask you what you expect out of this experience, chances are you’re not expecting white tablecloths or a maître d’. You’re expecting to line up, ...

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