Designing for Displayers (not Consumers)

Luke Wroblewski points to Geoffrey Miller's presentation at the Warm Gun Design Conference and his opening keynote "Evolution & The Central 6 Traits that Make Consumers Tick" on how evolutionary psychology explains why people put their possessions on display for others.

While Luke and Geoffrey focus on consumers, it is interesting to think about how this approach to design might influence product design for business users.  

Clearly, "business displayers" exist within the enterprise.  As the consumerization of IT continues to evolve, treating business users as "business displayers" may dramatically change the approach and design of business products.   

Here's a video of Professor Miller's presentation:


In addition, Luke does a nice job summarizing Miller's points.  I highlight a few below: 

Display not Consumption

People don’t buy products just to consume them. They buy them to display them.

Consumption (as in consumer) is a misleading term. While it’s true most animals spend all their time foraging for things to consume, display reaches much more deeply. Display is a highly natural instinct it pervades the animal world in mating, territory marking, and more.

What People Display

What do consumers want to display about themselves?

Central six mental traits: we are driven unconsciously to display these traits to anyone who will listen:

    1. intelligence,
    2. openness, 
    3. conscientiousness, 
    4. agreeableness, 
    5. stability, 
    6. extraversion. 

The last five are “the big 5” personality traits.

All 6 of these traits are fundamental and ancient across all species; they are genetically heritable; stable across life & cultures; attractive to mates, friends, kin; and can be judged and measured accurately.

If you are unhappy with someone it is usually because they fall short on some of these traits. We have evolved thousands of words to describe these traits.

Intelligence: verbal, spatial, social, emotional. All of these are correlated.

Openness: novelty, fantasy, aesthetics, liberalism, globalism. Most product creators are more open then their audience. Any advertisement that feature openness will appeal to some and alienate others. Openness drives rapid acceleration of new brands.

Conscientiousness: discipline, planning, ambition, order. The ability to plan ahead.

Agreeableness: kindness, honesty, modesty, tenderness.

Extraversion: last surviving trait from Myer Briggs. Shy vs. outgoing. Get positive feedback from act of talking. Plays out in consumer world through analytics, word of mouth, etc.

Everyone in business will overestimate openness, conscientiousness, etc. as they tend to over index on these traits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s