How can we become intuitive designers

Session Title

How can we become intuitive designers


Desiree Sy

Session Type: Presentation

As designers, we’ve spent a lot of time and effort pursuing the holy grail of the perfect intuitive design. What I propose instead is that we look at how our brains work to better understand how we make design decisions. In short, instead of chasing intuitive design, I want to know what actions we can take to become better, intuitive designers.

I’ll describe how our brains are wired to make decisions — how the reward-prediction error signal in the brain works, with a simple description of temporal-difference reinforcement learning models. Then, building from these theories, I’ll:

- Propose design activities that I think work with these models to enable people to get continuously better at making good gut design choices
- Suggest a different way of deploying standards or design patterns
- Talk about tempering the dangers of gut design
- Invite input from the audience on how we can all become more intuitive designers.


Desiree Sy has been crafting useful and enjoyable user experiences for over 17 years, the last 12 of them at Autodesk (formerly Alias). Customers and trade reviewers have described the user interfaces she’s designed as both innovative and a pleasure to use. She has presented, written, and taught on topics such as Agile user centred design, gathering good usability data, usability investigations for open-ended tasks, and low-cost usability investigations at UPA, CHI, Agile and ACM SIGDOC.


  1. Posted September 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I’ve always loved learning about how the brain works, and getting some tips on how I could use such info in design would be an added plus. Sign me up!

  2. Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    sounds interesting, especially the bits on diff way for standards & patterns and dealing with pitfalls of gut design.