I recently read an article by Martijn van Welie called “Brand Behavior in Interaction” and thought about the personality of applications that I use. Martijn suggests that applications evoke emotions and asks, “if we think about an application as a person, what kind of person would it be?” I was signing up for a training the other day and came to a line in the form that asked for ‘Lunch Preference’.
Although Martijn was referring more to the functionality of an application, this form made me think about the mind of the business behind the technology. I can infer that the business prefers vegetarian lunches and form all kinds of opinions about that. Or I can think the same thing about the developer who was given the business requirements and built the application. Maybe he or she wasn’t thinking when creating the default option. The optimal way to display that kind of question in my opinion is to ask if the user has a preference. If they check a box then they’re offered the choice between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Or simply ask, “Vegetarian Lunch?” with a checkbox (and leave it unchecked by default). You get the point.
As I apply this to our products, I ask this same question, “if we think about an application [or a company] as a person, what kind of person would it be?”