Our consumer behavior textbooks are coming to light in the design and curation of our first show.
Our gallery is about all things design, so of course we could not ignore environmental graphics in the design of our space. But in creating the layout of our first show, I needed to design more than just banners, nameplates, and, yes, experiences; I also had to take a good hard look at the design of traffic flow.
No sooner had we opened our doors then the words of Paco Underhill in Why We Buy came ringing through with a vivid “I told you so.” Allow me to explain.
If you have been to our gallery you know we have about 24 feet of show windows facing the street with an entrance to the right of those windows. We have some of our largest, brightest works in those windows. Logically, then, you would think that a person would enter the store and immediately be drawn toward those images he saw outside through the window. But that is oh, so wrong.
According to Underhill’s observations, when you first enter a store, you veer toward the right. Well, our windows, and the works in them, are to the left of the door.
Of course, the first few days before our opening allowed me to sit back and watch how people moved through the gallery. And, true to Underhill’s predictions, almost everyone eschewed the window works to instead follow the wall to their right. They walked all the way to the back of the gallery, did a U-turn and walked toward the front, and then, if they were so inclined, perhaps headed toward the works hanging in the window. In almost every case, people encountered those works last. Sometimes they were even surprised when they happened upon them, as if they had forgotten they were there during their visit to the back of the gallery.
I immediately realized what was happening; I had read of this in b-school. Of course, not wanting those works in the prized window location to be overlooked, I tried to find ways to convince people to go to the left of the gallery upon entering. First, I added some bright lighting to attract the attention of patrons and passersby in attempt to bring them over to the left. Secondly, I put several shiny freestanding objects just to the left of a person’s vision for when they have just passed through Underhill’s so-called “Landing Zone.” And last, I put a very friendly-looking bench in front of the window works as if to say “come, sit, linger.”
The result? Well, now about 30% of visitors actually go to the left when they enter the gallery. Coincidence? Possibly. Left-handedness? Well, apparently only 10% of the population is left-handed and my left-veering percentage exceeds that, so perhaps no.
Next time you enter 2 Rules, pay attention to which direction you walk in. Which paintings do you notice first? What catches your eye? What pattern do you walk in? Let me know. Your feedback will help us design a better experience.