The Psychology of Product Design: Creating Usable Content for Different Contexts

Presented by: Kirk St.Amant Louisiana Tech University and University of Limerick


Usable designs are critical to market success, for confusing or complex products rarely do well if more usable alternatives exists.  In many cases, it is the documentation – or technical content – accompanying products that contributes to their perceived usability. 

By leveraging this relationship, technical communicators can highlight the value they contribute to organizations.  Doing so involves an understanding of the psychological factors that shape usability expectations. 

Interestingly, most humans rely on sub-conscious mechanisms when evaluating the usability – and associated marketability – of items.  These processes are not innate; rather, they develop from one’s experiences in a particular context. 

Technical communicators can apply an understanding of such dynamics to create more usable content and enhance the marketability of associated products.  They can also use this knowledge to highlight the value they can bring to product development processes. 

To examine these aspects of usability and content creation, the presenter will first explain psychological factors influencing usability expectations.  The presenter will then discuss how technical communicators can leverage such knowledge to enhance content creation practices and raise the visibility (and associated value) of their work. 

Take Aways

  • An understanding of the psychological processes influencing usability expectations
  • A method for identifying psychological factors of usability for different audiences
  • An approach for applying such knowledge to create more usable content
  • A strategy for highlighting the value added by this approach to creating usable content

The presenter will also provide examples of how to apply these concepts and processes when developing communication-based materials.

About our Speaker

Kirk St.Amant is a Professor and Eunice C. Williamson Endowed Chair in Technical Communication at Louisiana Tech University and an Adjunct Professor of International Health and Medical Communication with the University of Limerick in Ireland.  He researches how cognition affects usability and design with a focus on international health and medical settings.