So You’ve Already Decided, Eh?

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It’s funny how fast people can decide on things. People can see a website redesign and love it or hate it right away. It might take someone 15 seconds of seeing it before they are furiously writing up a comment one way or another.

I had a micro example of this with the recent AnythingZoomer plugin I did. Like a lot of the stuff I do around here, it’s one part proof-of-concept, one part good-excuse-for-a-tutorial, and hopefully, one part useful. Also as is typical around here, the comments were overwhelmingly positive (you guys are just cool like that). But there was a decent amount of comments here and elsewhere that basically amounted to “This is stupid. Where would this ever be useful?” I’m not afraid of criticism. That’s not what this is about. I’m interested in this ultra-quick visceral decision making that happens, and the implications of it.

I’m reminded of this great Veerle Pieters quote (archived at Quotes on Design):

I’m always surprised by the speed that people judge a site. They’ve seen it for a few seconds, and already an opinion has been formed. When I look at a design of a site, I don’t immediately vent an opinion, but I take it all in slowly and start to think of what could have been on the mind of the designer.

I love this ultra-rational attitude, and it can definitely be extended beyond reactions to design. For example, have you ever gone to a movie with a friend and they asked you as soon as you walk out of the theater if you liked the movie or not? You probably have some idea. I mean if you were sitting there laughing the whole time you probably liked it (assuming it was a comedy). Typically though, at least for me, it takes some time to be able to answer that question. I need to let the movie sink in and for my mind to process all my feelings about it before I’m ready to throw out judgments.

So what is the matter with this culture of instant-decision-making? I’m not sure. Maybe nothing, maybe everything. I worry mostly about the individuals. When you vocalize your opinion, you not only are trying to share it with others but you are convincing yourself. You can’t wake up in the morning and tell your friend that now you loved the movie, even though you said you hated it when you left the theater. You sound crazy or at best emotionally unreliable. But a flip-flop like that is unlikely anyway, as since you’ve vocalized your opinion you’ve likely spent most of your time coming up with strong arguments in favor of your opinion, rather than thinking about things with an open mind.

This post is open for rational discussion =)