Have you ever really thought about how design influences your everyday actions? Most of the time, we’re unaware of the subtle visual queues that guide our daily lives. Whether it’s strategically placed road signs on the freeway, color-coded packaging or the product flow of a supermarket, design is all around us, influencing our thoughts and behaviors. In many cases, a simple design can make a huge logistical difference. Take, for instance, University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona – host of this year’s Super Bowl. The stadium has five main sections of seating around the perimeter. Instead of using three-digit numbers like most stadiums, University of Phoenix Stadium uses the numbers 1-5. Outside of each section, a 30-foot high corresponding number directs visitors to their section. Once inside, visitors are guided to their seats in a similarly linear fashion. It’s an easy design that that dramatically improves game day logistics.
Package design influences behavior too – like the nutrition labels on our food. As any aspiring dieter knows, the standard US nutrition label can be more than a bit confusing. As people become increasingly aware of their food choices, nutrition labels have become a point of contention for many nutritionists and doctors. But according to psychologists Peter Helfer and Thomas Shultz of McGill University in Montreal, there may be a better way to label our food. In a recent issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, they argue that a simple one-number label called “NuVal” might be a better way to go. In their study, the pair compared the traditional nutrition label with two alternatives: a “traffic light” style design and the new, single-summary “NuVal” design. Both the traffic light and NuVal designs outperformed traditional labeling. The study, which you can read more about here, is an interesting look into the way design influences our choices.
As we move further into the digital age, the concentration on intuitive, behavior-altering design has moved to the forefront. Mobile devices are a prime example of design in action. Steve Jobs famously believed that simple, gorgeous design was the basis of success for Apple’s products. He insisted that the inside of the iPhone – which the consumer would never see – be as visually effective as the outside, believing that whole design would drive ingenuity. Today, the design of that first iPhone – a short seven years ago – has not only influenced our behavior (who knew what a “swipe” was a decade ago?) but has bled into all of our digital designs, including responsive website design. As we increasingly blend our digital experience with our organic experience, digital design will be at the vanguard of creating designs that influence, simplify and guide our actions and decisions. For brands, design will guide how consumers interact with – and make decisions about – their products and services. Whether it’s a website, packaging or a brand’s physical location, design has an enormous impact on the success of its operation. Think about how your brand utilizes design. Are you guiding customers along their journey from prospect to evangelist? Fill out the form to the right, let’s talk.