Review: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People


My Rating: 4/5

About the Book
100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People is a 200+-page collection of theories and research about how people react to design. The book is broken up into 10 sections: how people see; how people remember; how people think; how people focus their attention; what motivates people; people are social animals; how people feel; people make mistakes; and how people decide. Susan Weinschenk is a respected psychologist who has spent her 30-year career studying the psychology of design. 100 Things is writtten for a fairly introdutory audience and could be used as a survey course in an upper-division undergraduate course on design theory.

Author: Susan M. Weinschenk
Publisher: New Riders
Costabout $20 on Amazon
ISBN: 978-0321767530

What I Liked
Weinschenk’s approach to design theory makes the content applicable and approachable for students new at design theory. I used this book in a Master’s level course on design principles and desktop publishing. In that class, the book was most useful to generate discussion about why people react the way they do to the things we design. Weinschenk gives very good and interesting examples for each principle of design psychology, making the book educational and fun to read. Each segment ends with a “Takeaways” list, giving readers practical advice on how to adjust their designs to work better for people. Overall, the book is well-adapted to its audience and the research and theories addressed cover the important topics.

What I Didn’t Like
Weinschenk’s downfall in this book is her reliance on her own personal background without adapting the book for it. From what I gather, Weinshcenk has spent the majority of her career (at least of recent) on the psychology of web design. As such, about half of all the design principles and takeaways in the book are related directly to web design. The book isn’t advertised as a web design book and readers hoping to learn about general design theory or graphic design not intended for web audiences may find this annoying and disappointing. Furthermore, it becomes apparent after reading through the book that Weinschenk probably ought to have ended on around 75 things, rather than 100. Several of her points become redundant, so similar to other principles that they might as well have been the same.


One thought on “Review: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People

  • November 11, 2015 at 1:32 am


    Your review was very helpful and frank. I am civil engineer very familiar with computers etc.. but just starting to design web applications. It had occurred to me their was some human elements not covered in normal UX design books so this book caught my eye.

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