The Chair of Death

In Dr. Zappala’s post Human Interfaces he talks about the book “The Design of Everyday Things.” As I was reading the post, it made me realize how important physical appearance is to us. Putting aside the question of do looks matter in relationships, they seem to matter a great deal when it comes to products. In the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, the author discusses in great deal how important this is to the consumer. He even cited a study involving alcohol and the containers it came in. When two competing brands of alcohol switched containers, consumers still preferred the spirit with the more attractive case, even though the product inside had changed. A majority of this section of the book focused on a chair. the Aeron chair to be exact. In brief, the Aeron chair was designed to be one of the most comfortable office chairs in existence. Its only problem was that it was hideous. In fact, one of the the staffers working on the chair jolkingly created a mock tabloid headline that said, “CHAIR OF DEATH: EVERYONE WHO SITS IN IT DIES” and made it the cover of one of the early Aeron research reports. Despite the fact that this chair was practically the most comfortable office chair available, it was rated time and time again as being rather uncomfortable. This was because the average consumer had already made a judgement on what the chair SHOULD feel like based on its looks. We do the same type of judgement with computer programs. If the human interface is confusing, or if the graphics are not all that great, we dismiss it as a terrible program. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a world where first impressions, and ease of use trump all other factors when we are making decisions. Seems as if a knowledge of psychology is becoming more and more important if an individual wants to become a successful businessman.

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One thought on “The Chair of Death

  1. Pingback: 42 « Hakuna Matata

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