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Why Waiting Is Torture

There are a couple of great anecdotes in this NYT article about the experience of waiting. An airport in Houston was getting a lot of complaints about wait times for picking up baggage, so they increased the number of baggage handlers. Wait times dropped, but people kept complaining.

So the airport decided on a new approach: instead of reducing wait times, it moved the arrival gates away from the main terminal and routed bags to the outermost carousel. Passengers now had to walk six times longer to get their bags. Complaints dropped to near zero.

As user experience designers it’s important to remember that people’s perceptions and expectations affect how they react to a product just as much, if not more, than their actual interactions.