Designing Perception

Designing Perception


How Our Brains Perceive

Our brains are wired to take information in and extract meaning from it. Our brains are also wired to conserve energy. Analyzing new information takes energy and the brain will want to do this quickly and efficiently. When our brains get a good idea of how large something is or what the purpose of a tool is, the brain applies this information to the rest of the object or tool.

For example, have you ever visited a small house only to find it was much larger once you walked inside? We always feel surprise when we find out the house is much larger than expected. This is because our brains decided this house was small based on our first impression. The only thing that broke this impression was when we were confronted with a space much larger than we expected. But what if the house was only slightly larger than what it seemed? Our small house impression would keep the house small in our minds even though it may be a medium sized house. Our brains won’t correct the first impression unless we are confronted with new information that is in stark contrast to that first sense.

There are many ways to use this technique, but what you need to remember is that the first impression will influence the rest of the experience.

What do Customers Perceive?

When a customer walks into a lobby and is greeted by a very warm and friendly face, that customer will hold onto the idea that this business is friendly throughout the visit. The only thing that would break that impression is a contradiction. If the customer is treated rudely at the end of the experience, then the initial impression is overridden. As long as the customer interacts with people who are not rude, they don’t have to be overly friendly for the first impression to remain.

Products can be enhanced by this subtle influence as well. Ice cube trays that are blue will “feel” colder to the touch than red colored trays, enhancing the cold refreshing drink you are about to enjoy. A sports car with a rough ride will “feel” much faster than if you were traveling the same speed in a luxury car with great shocks because you will notice how fast you are going in the sports car. A chair that looks plushy will “feel” more comfortable than modern furniture with clean lines and the same amount of cushion because your brain “sees” how much more cushion is in the plushy char.

Design Perception

So we really do have the power to design what others perceive. The first impression must be analyzed and curated to give our customers the impression we want, then we must ensure the rest of the experience is not in stark contrast to that of the first impression. To make certain the first impression remains, adding a second curated impression at the end of the experience will have a lasting effect. Think of it as a reminder to your customers you’re going to be there for them when they want the fun, happy, exhilarating or calming experience you provide.