Is your product a “hot chick”?

Back when I was a research assistant at the Human Computer Interaction Lab in Maryland, a very interesting study was carried by Kent Norman on the acts of rage against computers. Kent surveyed people and asked them to “vent” their feelings and frustrations with their computers and software. The results showed that people screamed, swore, hit, and even killed their machines out of frustration and anger. For a full flavor of the acts of violence, follow the link to the full study below.

What was particularly interesting to me was the difference in opinions between Mac users and Windows users: Windows users blamed Microsoft for anything that goes wrong with their PC, even when it’s not Microsoft’s fault. On the other hand, Mac users forgave Apple even when it’s Apple’s fault. Back then, I wasn’t a Mac user (I’ve been a faithful PC user until Vista came out), so I grabbed a friend of mine who owned a Mac and asked him: “What’s so special about the Mac that makes you more forgiving?”.

“You know when you are driving back home through the rush hour traffic, after a long day at work, and your car suddenly gets rear ended by another driver. You stop your car, you go down and you’re ready to yell and fight with the other driver. And the other person gets off the car, and it’s this really hot chick, beautiful, well dressed, smiling at you with innocence and kindly apologizing. You can’t help but to smile back, tell her that it’s no big deal, get back in your car and drive back home. It may actually put you in a good mood that such a beautiful person has been nice to you today. That’s how I feel about my Mac!”

This person’s answer revealed to me the importance of a product’s look and behavior to users. It may even eclipse in importance its ability to function properly, or give users all what they need. We are mostly emotional creatures, and we like those who treat us well. Next time your product displays an error message, make sure it smiles, it apologizes, and qualifies as a hot chick.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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