No, you are not the masters of your taste buds

The tastiness of a food is dependent on whether you make it yourself or not, whether you’re up in the air or not, and whether you cook it using heat. Yes it is.

This collection of links was inspired by a fleeting conversation with Andy over a bowl of heart shaped sweets. “They should taste amazing because of their rounded edge form”, he told me.

He’s not wrong. How food tastes is influenced not only but shape, but also by colour and texture.

Finally, something that all good restaurateurs know: how we experience something is based on our beliefs about the history of that something. Why do you think we all care about the origins of our broccoli?

1. How colour, texture and environment influence taste perception

Rounder forms taste sweeter whereas angular forms, more bitter


2. Why sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them

Seeing food made over time and also repeated exposure, makes a food less desirable.

3. Why airplane food tastes so bad

Cabin pressure causes cotton mouth to set in. Nothing but ice cream can taste good. Shame:)

4. Why cooked food tastes better

The eponymous Maillard Reaction, named after Louis-Camille Maillard, occurs every time you heat a mixture of sugars and amino acids. Before Maillard, people just made educated guesses about how cooking works.

5. Paul Bloom’s Ted Talk about the Origins of Pleasure

“Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are essentialists – that our beliefs about the history of an object changes how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is.



Smashing Mag highlights: Alcohol, navigation & 16 hours of UX video

That’s right. A new year, a new IA digest series! For the 1st one of 2010, I have decided to start off on a good foot and plagiarise Smashing magazine…

1] The Unusable and Superficial World of Beer and Alcohol Websites
“I’ve concluded — due to problems related to typography, accessibility, and usability — that the apparent “beauty” present on many of the websites related to this industry is merely “skin deep”. To put it quite bluntly, the  people responsible for decision-making in the beer and alcohol website industry should be ashamed of themselves for creating such horrendous user experiences.”
Louis Lazaris wants a fight innit. Have a go if you think you’re ‘ard ‘nuff

2] And then Louis went and wrote this: The Case Against Vertical Navigation
He made the claim in his beer and alcohol article that using left-hand vertical navigation is an out-of-date method in modern web design and people wondered why he said this. He presents 5 reasons why he prefers horizontal navigation as opposed to vertical. In the end, as always, it depends on the project but he has some interesting points.

3] Finally a link not by the infamous Louis, 25 User Experience Videos That Are Worth Your Time
Does what it says on the tin, collated for your 16 hours of viewing pleasure by the very thoughtful and somewhat unhappy looking Janko Jovanovic

Have a lovely week, stay snot-free!:)


From Site Usability
Moustache Marty from Foviance explains why investing in customer experience is imperative to sustaining businesses long term. Showing how the changing nature of the anger/action relationship enabled by social media, means that customer experience should be on the agenda at the highest level of the organisation.

Via Building Smarter Cities
IBMS webcast and pdf ‘Designing for Smarter Cities’ requires a balance between learning what works and creating solutions based on the specifics of a city’s history, culture, language, and geography. The need to design new systems with complex yet subtle social effects, and compelling social benefits, makes this an exciting and challenging new area for usability.
Although it seems like a somewhat tenuous link, flick through the pdf – there are some nice little usability tit bits in there.

To Creative Streets
Beautiful, smart, crazy usable uses of cities, their pavements & their streets

This year, World Usability Day 2009 is approaching design from Cradle to Cradle. “Coming from a user-centric perspective and looking beyond form and function, we are exploring the impact design has on our World. The ‘Cradle to Cradle’ approach is to start the design with the premise of using materials that can fully enter a new life cycle by either going back to nature or going back into the design process as a new product. This holistic approach to sustainable design shows how usability can apply to all of what we do and build.”

We do sustainable design without necessarily thinking about it. All that user generated content we use to further a campaign life cycle – that’s sustainable design. Can you think of any more in the context of what we do? Send them to meJ

Stay Usable and HappyJ