The one time I got upgraded to first class, I was wearing a suit. The owner of an auto parts store said, “can I help you sir?” to my husband who was running a quick errand after church. This owner was the same person who on 13 previous visits had barely acknowledged my husband at all. We intuitively know that dressing nice conveys trust, status, and prestige. Our keen interest in looks does not end at clothing.
We evaluate the looks of all sorts of things. Our cars, our houses, the buildings where we work, and shop, and send our kids to school.
Marketers know this, and they agonize about the placement of every last little Cheerio in the bowl on the front of the box.
We all notice how things look all the time and in all parts of our life. In fact, we notice how something looks before we see its utility. So if we see bad design, we might not stick around long enough to notice its utility and value.
Every association has to jump the design barrier to convey to members that the brochure is something they want to read, the website is navigable, the guidebook is worth investing time in, the research report is worth scanning, or the conference app is worth using.
Even forms, invoices, confirmation notices, and receipts, all the process related items that seem to be all utility are unconsciously evaluated for how they look.
The better looking Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and all the other sites we visit every day are, the higher the design barrier becomes for associations. Associations can not deliver utility and value before we signal to members we are trustworthy, professional, and worth our member’s time, and we convey this through great design.