I was a Whole Foods first-timer

Asparagus! Credit to Esteban Cavrico on Flickr.com.
Asparagus! Credit to Esteban Cavrico on Flickr.com.

I am not a foodie. Okay, now that that is out of the way: Whole Foods is amazing.

One evening at last week’s IUE2009 conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my colleague Jackie and I breezed through the local Whole Foods store. From a user experience perspective, my Whole Foods experience was really great. But, let me digest it a bit further.

As author of “Neuro Web Design” Susan Weinschenk explained, our “old brain” triggers on 3 questions: can I eat it, can I have sex with it, and can it harm me.

Upon entering Whole Foods, we were first met with luscious fresh fruits and vegetables. They appeared and smelled a factor better than the normal produce at the grocer in my village. I walked in with the intetion to buy one item: baking powder that uses potato starch instead of corn starch, so when I realized I was gazing lustily at the asparagus, I swallowed my mouthful of saliva and steeled myself with the rational part of my brain. Discipline! I would not succumb. Still, it was delightful to walk around and see the beautiful cuts of meat, the great selections at the deli, the desserts, the wine, the cheeses.

We had circled the store and were approaching the checkout and realized that we hadn’t seen the baking section.

So consider: We were in an unfamiliar store and had not located the item I was seeking. I was not irritated by this. The general happiness of walking through this great store put me in a very tolerant mood. I actually looked forward to seeing what other great things we’d see on the way to finding the baking powder, and I had high expectation that they would, in fact, have the baking powder. They did have it. I bought two cans of it, at a premium price. And, I ended up buying some turbinado sugar that was in the same aisle, since I was nearly out of demerrara sugar that I use for baking (and in coffee and on oatmeal…).

Designers! If you haven’t yet, read “Emotional Design” by Don Norman. Oh, and Weinschenk’s book too.