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Amsterdam Center for Social Media

Online Design Toolkits: Social Media with Antisocial Consequences?

Photo: Customized Smartcar from http://www.smartusa.com/customization/

By Jeana Frost

Thanks to numerous online design toolkits, consumers can now personalize all types of products ranging from the relatively incidental, (e.g. a pair of Nike sneakers) to the costly (e.g. a Smartcar). And, they are not alone in the process. Thanks to social media, consumers can now join conversations dedicated to discussing products designed online. Websites invite consumers to join communities to design products together – a combination of do-it-yourself and social media that, in its best form, could resemble design school.

But does the ability to offer mass personalization necessarily mean companies should offer it to their customers?

Some existing research in psychology and behavioral economics suggests yes: toolkits seem to heighten consumers’ evaluation of products. In a set of quirky experiments, Norton, Mochon and Ariely have demonstrated that people value products more when they have a hand in their production. Dubbed the “Ikea Effect,” people report they value their own simple creations (Lego sets and origami cranes) more than those made by their peers. Research on psychological ownership and the power of  the idea “I Designed it Myself” reinforces this work by suggesting that people feel more ownership of a good when they construct it,leading them to value the good more highly. Although pride in personal labor seems to exist for Read the rest of this entry »

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April 2013
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