Understanding understanding


A fundamental function of the UX design department is to give the end user the best possible understanding of the application and its workings. The elegant solution is sought based on the designer’s intimate knowledge of the User Language. For this reason it is important that the designer understands Understanding as a concept.

So what is understanding? You know the answer, but how does that help you? What you really need to know is what creates understanding. We know what it is but how do we create it? How do we increase it and manipulate it? To do this we need to break it down into the parts that make up understanding.

In the world of design we hear a lot about communication, excitement, trends etc. Yet there is a lack of knowledge as to how all these tie together to improve the end user’s understanding. They all fit into the three parts that that make up understanding. These three parts are Affinity, Reality and Communication (ARC). Together they make understanding.

The ARC Triangle

Imagine a triangle. It’s called the ARC triangle. This triangle IS understanding. At the three corners we have the three building blocks of understanding: Affinity, Reality and Communication.

The greater the triangle, the greater the understanding. The way to increase the size of the triangle is to increase one of the building blocks. Increase one and the others follow. Conversely if you decrease one, the others will also shrink.

The ARC triangle was discovered by L. Ron Hubbard who has written a lot about this powerful device.  This frankly brilliant discovery of his lays bare communication and allows designers to understand at the fundamental level just how to influence it. In other words, if you want to best communicate something then you should understand the ARC Triangle.


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