I just spent a wonderful hour with the Cleartype team. But that’s not why I’m writing to you. On the team is Kevin Larson, who is a cognitive psychologist.
But that’s not why I’m writing to you either. After I shut off my camera we started talking about some of the research he’s doing. He (and other researchers in the field) have found something very interesting: that being in a happy mood makes people better problem solvers.
It’s interesting. Earlier today I was talking with someone about conference planning. I told them my experiences with conferences. What was the most important thing? Making the first hour absolutely entertaining.
Now this all makes sense. An audience that’s thrilled can learn faster and can solve problems better.
I wonder if this same research could be applied to Web site usage? If you are happier are you more likely to click on ads? If you’re happier, are you more likely to read a long article or watch a long video?
Ever think that Google’s secret weapon isn’t their search engine, or Google Base, but rather Dennis Hwang? He’s the artist that draws the fun things around the logo.
I wonder, does making people smile make them better searchers?
Hey, Bill Gates, wanna make a billion dollars on services? Sounds like the research is telling you to hire this guy: DeepFun.com.
Seriously now, back to Kevin. This guy is a serious researcher. He sticks people inside an MRI machine and asks them to read two pages of text. One with fonts that are ugly and poorly designed. One with beautifully designed fonts and aesthetically laid out.
He says they can’t see much difference in reading speed, but there’s a massive difference in the part of the brain used on each kind of page. Also, they measure the various facial muscles used when reading text. Turns out people frown more when reading the poorly-laid-out text.
Oh, and they are doing a bunch of eye track research on fonts too. Turns out that ClearType increases reading speed and comprehension by about seven percent when compared to a machine that has ClearType turned off. More when I get the videos up next month.