article (Sat Sep 08 2012)

The scent of information

  • #designthinking
  • #cognitivescience

This week, one of my readings was - "Designing For The Scent of Information" - by Jared M. Spool, Christine Perfetti, and David Brittan. The title of this article seemed to inspired by a popular movie. And it could not have been more apt. It was extremely interesting when the authors used the acronyms and phrases such as "informavores", "iceberg syndrome", "clarity always trumps fun" and "scroll stoppers".

In my experience of browsing the web, I have observed that many people resort to interacting with graphics only when the text does not provide as sufficient scent. And text can provide sufficient scent only when the keywords stand out. And keywords can mostly stand out when used in conjunction with ample of white space and a relevant graphic. In my opinion, a graphic can be used to capture the attention of the user, but the relevant text around it must be such that it contains the keywords since keywords alone are not good enough to capture attention.

In the example for the HP website, I am still pondering as to how closely is the icon of a CD relevant to a device driver. And when thinking about that, I realized that you dont actually have an icon that can be used to describe a device driver. Which means that many more soft components do not have a graphical counterpart that might indicate what it is meant to do. Obviously, the picture of a car driver on the HP website would make no sense to represent a graphic driver.

This absence of a direct association between a software component and its real world metaphor can also be considered as one of the reasons for Linda's misery.

This leads us to the conclusion that no matter how an interface is designed, the lack of an appropriate metaphor can significantly impact the extent of the scent of a product.