What is it we value?

Oh, humans…

  • “Studies have shown that people prefer inexpensive wines in blind taste tests,” writes James Surowiecki in the New Yorker, “but that they actually get more pleasure from drinking wine they are told is expensive. If lobster were priced like chicken, we might enjoy it less.” [Via] See also “Veblen goods.” Maybe we should just quintuple the price of mobile apps & see what happens (though for most that’d be five times zero…)
  • Hmm, this Quora posting is anonymous, but interesting if true: “The loading screen exists because when the information is returned to the user as quickly as possible, he or she will often perceive it to be less valuable. It’s as if the server didn’t put much effort into really finding a great deal. No customer ever actually articulates that; but surveys, customer testing sessions, and most importantly conversion rates support the notion that when a seven or eight second loading screen tells the user that the numbers are being crunched just for this one query, the result is perceived to be more valuable.” [Via Geoff Badner]

14 thoughts on “What is it we value?

  1. Similar effects can be seen all over. Remember the anecdote about Picasso sitting in a cafe and a woman asking him to sketch her? She only sees the moments it takes for him actually do the work, so judges value by time. She does not perceive the value of years put in prior to that moment.
    A more modern example is the photographer. A chimp with a camera phone might accidentally grab a fantastic photo. That chimp now sees no value in the professional that can repeatedly do amazing work after hundreds to thousands of hours of practice and work.
    We’re all the stars of our own movie.

  2. Yes, I too see the value of our craft dwindling. These days clients seem to think that anyone with a computer and Adobe software is a designer.
    Scariest thing I’ve heard in a long time was this comment made by a school principal: “Why do we need to teach photography theory? Just let them go out and take pictures!”

  3. The second so-called “finding” is ridiculous. So you mean a lot of these “loading screen” (i.e., unnecessary, inaccessible Javascript) are just like the useless delay my cell phone does when I delete a text? One of the reasons I hate my cell phone, and if what you say is true (i.e., those screen exist solely to waste your time), I’d hate them even more.
    Following this logic, I should love my Mac because I can’t type fast in Chinese (not because I type slow but because the Mac added code, around Leopard or so, that create typing mistakes when you type fast). Thank you very much. If X11’s IME system were more stable I’d have loved typing on X11 any day.

  4. A friend of mine sold tomatoes. He put the same type of tomatoes in two side by side boxes. One box was labelled standard tomatoes and the other was labelled premium tomatoes with the premium tomatoes being labelled at a higher price than the standard tomatoes. Generally people bought the more expensive tomatoes. I’m sure if you asked people they would tell you the ‘premium’ tomatoes tasted better than the standard tomatoes.
    The wonderful world of marketing!
    Richard (and I never eat tomatoes!)

  5. Not sure I this is tangential but I was reminded of it. Neighbor had a bunch of stuff they wanted to get rid of sitting out on the boulevard in the hopes people would take most of it. It sat there until someone had the idea to put price tags on everything. People “stole” it all in less than a week.

    1. That’s odd. In my city people will take everything away in no time unless, of course, the stuff really aren’t in a usable condition.

  6. This shows my age, but my first production-related job was working in a b/w photo lab. We typically had the work done within a couple of hours of receiving it, but the owner had bins set up with days marked on them. We had instructions to put the finished work in the bin marked 3 days away (ie: if it was Monday it would go in the Wednesday bin). If it was marked that the customer paid for RUSH it would go in the Tuesday bin. Each bin was released on its marked day.
    I questioned this as borderline dishonest and at best counter-economic, but the owner explained that when he used to return the work as soon as it was finished he got more complaints and redo requests. So it was essentially a survival technique.
    Fast-forward 40 years and I’m running a live video show demonstrating high-end Photoshop techniques. I’d record the show and make the recording available 3 days later. After many requests (and forgetting the aforementioned lesson) I started putting up the recordings immediately after showtime. Complaints skyrocketed exponentially and live viewership dropped to near zero.
    I tried moving back to the delayed schedule, but that cat was out of the bag. I’ve since abandoned the live show and now simply rent the recordings of previous shows. I make less than I did with the live shows, but not that much less and complaints have dropped to near zero (while oddly the compliments and kudos have increased). Plus I now have virtually unlimited time to do other projects.
    So giving the customer what they want is not necessarily good business.

  7. What is it we value? We value upfront honesty. When I buy an airline ticket I want to go to my destination without getting nickel/dimed along the way. Same with banks and hotels. When I buy software I want to use it and have it updated for a reasonable rate. I want the choice to update to be mine. Renting something is not for “old school” people who want to point to something and say that’s mine. I own my car and don’t rent/lease it. You can provide updates with a purchase price so I can choose. The “old school” people don’t want anybody saying you owe me on something I think I own. I don’t have unlimited funds, am not a company, am not making my living from what I rent/lease. I value the money I have in my pocket that is mine, not the money in my pocket that someone thinks is theirs.

  8. ps. If you don’t give the customer what they want you don’t have customers. They will remember you for your lack of service. Just ask Mr. Ballmer at Microsoft before he leaves. Just an old MBA speaking.

    1. “If you don’t give the customer what they want you don’t have customers.” – Well said.
      So far, every designer that I have talked to is refusing to go to the CC model as it is and my printer has only received 1 InDesign CC file. They told their customer to save down to CS6 or send a PDF. They will not be going to CC and are advising all their customers to do the same as they will not support those CC files natively. I’ve heard that this isn’t the only printer doing so either…

      1. Is there really a need to troll every post on this blog?
        [Yes, I think the California legislature recently passed a bill (SB-404) mandating it. –J.]

  9. There is another aspect to this quirk of human nature. The more you pay for something the less likely you are to complain or admit to there being issues with it. Which some other post have tangentially touched on.
    Take a premium computer product like Apple and compare it to PCs, most of which cost far less. PC owners will happily speak up if there is an issue with their equipment, but some rabid Macolytes will sacrifice their first born before admitting there could possibly be any flaw in an Apple product.
    I should point out I use Macs and my PCs tend to gather dust these days, but I contrary to most people, I will complain more if a pricey product fails to deliver. Which Apple products do on a disappointing regular basis.

    1. I complain about Apple products ALL the time. As a longtime Unix and X11 user, I am very unhappy with how abnormal Apple’s version of Unix is and how I canNOT use the X11-based IME’s that are so much user friendlier than Apple’s versions (which causes typing mistakes unless I slow down to ridiculous typing speeds). I also complain about Apple’s very poor memory management, and I know people who complain about this even more than I do.
      The only reason I use Apple products is because we need to use Adobe products, for example, and compared to normal Unix systems, Windows is even worse.

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