our impressions of things

Several years ago I worked as a system administrator and our workroom had several computers hooked up to a variety of monitors. One of the monitors was a monstrous 21 inches and I observed an interesting phenomenon. No matter how slow the machine was that we plugged into it, it felt faster when we used the big monitor. Somehow, the huge screen made the computer seem better.

When I first bought the Nissan 300ZX, the gearshift knob was worn, so I bought a new one. The feeling of a new gearshift knob made the car seem much newer than it really was, and it only cost $15.

I find it interesting that even though I know a larger monitor or new gearshift knob doesn’t change the underlying computer or vehicle, I had the impression that it did. I realized that changing an inconsequential item can make a big difference if its what the user interacts with. For example, a new keyboard or mouse can make a world of difference if you use a computer all day. A steering wheel cover or a freshly washed car can make you feel like you have a new car.

While the change is superficial, it’s usually cheap, so if it makes your experience a little better, why not splurge a little?

I don’t know what made me think of this. Consider it a random thought to file away for the future.