Andy Fitzgerald

Language Arts for the Lizard Brain: Vocabulary Design for the Predictably Irrational

Friday, March 24 1:45 pm – 2:05 pm

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Session Summary

Because we use all use language proficiently every day, we tend to assume we know how it works. Sometimes we’re even right! When designing communication systems for others, however, we frequently run into wild discrepancies between what we expect our users to understand – and what our users actually understand.

One culprit of this understanding gap is the set of assumptions our always-on, automatic cognition systems make about what we see, experience, and read. By understanding how these systems work – and what sometimes makes them work against us – we can learn to make smarter recommendations for user-facing design vocabularies that not only technically “work,” but that also help us better facilitate user, experience, and business goals for our clients.

This talk will draw on recent cognitive sciences research in perception and decision making to unravel the common ways the words we design sometimes work against us. Using examples from my own work and from the web at large, we’ll look at:

About the Speaker

Andy Fitzgerald is an independent digital experience designer with applied expertise in design research, information architecture, interaction design, and prototyping. In his consulting experience with Deloitte Digital and frog design, he has tackled the problem of effective communication in complex information spaces for a wide range of organizations, including Fortune 100 companies, startups, state agencies, and public universities.

Andy speaks and writes regularly on the subjects of experience, design, and understanding, often reaching into neighboring pursuits of linguistics and cognitive psychology to (attempt to) make sense of why users do what they do.