People Like to Look at Pretty Things

I try to point out the underlying motivations and logic behind as much of the foodservice industry as I can in my class.  One such moment occurs when I walk through the different positions of a traditional Front of House as I point out that humans enjoy beauty and that smart restaurateurs pay attention to one of the most critical points in the customer experience.  It is a fact of the industry that often the most physically attractive employee is the host which is also the first person the customer sees.  It is the host’s primary duty to make the customer feel welcome and if the host is attractive, it is biologically less likely that the customer will turn around and walk out.

In media, color theory and visual design work together to create an underlying framework that promotes engagement through a very basic human concept:  beauty.  For many years I have used a quote to introduce my students to knife skills:  “Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.” – Pearl Buck.  It speaks directly to why it is important for them to put in the time and effort to learn how to create the traditional shapes of batonnet, small dice, julienne and brunoise with precision and consistency.  Not only does it teach them how to use a knife, but it emphasizes the significance of appearance by bringing order and thereby adding value to the final product because customers eat with their eyes first.

When a teacher is trying to communicate anything, the first order of business is to get the learners attention and it is useful to remember that students often learn with their eyes first.  Paying attention to the elements of color and design helps to create media that humans want to look at and can bring greater understanding as well as easier recall by evoking an emotional reaction in the viewer.  When instruction is designed to be attractive and informative it can increase engagement and retention but as with almost anything, if that design calls attention to itself, it becomes distracting.  While it might increase engagement, the learner could be focusing on the design instead of the information.  Instruction can use the elements of color theory and design in any visual media from print to video but as with a good movie, those elements must support and enhance the instructional narrative and direct the learners attention towards the intended objective rather than call attention to themselves and thereby disrupt the narrative.  Like so many things, instructional design must follow the Goldilocks rule:  not too much, not too little, but just right.


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