The Lettuce Principle


—Andy Hunt

03/11/2003
Published in Andy's Blog

Here’s a little tidbit I almost forgot about; I came up with this for a talk at last year’s annual Ruby Conference.

One night, while reading the USDA Economic Research Service’s Agricultural Outlook for April 2001 (apparently there was nothing on cable that night), I came across the following amazing statistic.

Over a several-year period, the U.S. per capita consumption of Romaine lettuce increased 162%, to the point now where lettuce consumption is at a record high. Why? Largely because we are too damn lazy to even wash our own lettuce anymore.

The convenience of pre-washed, bagged lettuce outweighs the cost. At least in my grocery store, a bag of lettuce is easily three times more expensive than a raw head. Yet we buy the bag anyway, because you can just grab a handful and throw it on your plate.

Moral of the story: it’s got to be easy. It it ain’t easy, people won’t do it. This is a valuable point to keep in mind as we design systems, interfaces, methodologies, and so on. It’s got to be easy.

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