Sarah Hyndman’s talk was a game-changer. In a tech-focused city, such as SF, designers are often asked to produce analytics for aesthetics they create. Clients will say, “You chose to use this typeface but what’s the data to back up the decision? Does type matter?” Sarah believes, and is proving quantitatively, that typeface choices do indeed matter and are largely influential in consumer behavior. She explores a lot of synesthesic topics in her research and workshops — presenting visual content to evoke an auditory or gustatory response. She builds on the work of cognitive neuroscientists and brings their questions and insights into a real-world lab of designer attendees.
Her final provocative thought, focused on how to apply learnings from her experiments to have impact on pressing world problems. Experiment: Participants are given two identical jelly beans. Before they eat the jelly bean they are shown a word written in a particular typeface. Then they eat one jelly bean and rate it’s sweetness. Next, they are shown the same word spelled out in a different typeface. They eat the remaining jelly bean and rate its sweetness. Results after repeated experimentation show perceived sweetness is statistically significantly correlated with the typeface of the word the participant was exposed to. Wow.
She asked… “could we use typeface to change labels on packaging, making us think what we’re eating is sweeter than it actually is, and drive us towards healthier food options? Pretty big question to be asked on a design stage and a bold mission for typeface to take on!
By Lily C.
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