Las Lajas Cathedral, Colombia
Just playing “catch up” with long unpublished items in WordPress:
This short article on Blogos remarks on Lifeway’s study on preferences for cathedral-style churches rather than contemporary buildings:
Here’s one conjecture about their finding: systems and devices that have familiar features also tend to be more usable. There are lots of ways you might imagine to control the direction or transmission of a car: but most people have learned to use steering wheels and console-based shifters, and consequently you can get into most any car with no confusion about how to operate it. (in UI design, these features are called affordances) I suspect many people prefer Gothic-style buildings, not because they work better, but simply because they present a more familiar user interface that matches their expectations of how the outside of a church “works.”
Well said! Of course, looks can be deceiving. The City Hall in Manchester, NH is gothic in style and looks “churchy,” while being a public government building.
Affordances are cultural, not universal. In terms of UI, the reason affordances work is that the user typically has expectations about how they should work. Mac OS X and GNOME make sense because the user is already trained for Windows XP (and vice versa). The differences between these three and a UI like Ratpoison, ion, or screen are much bigger and don’t offer the same cultural expectations (menu bars, icons, pointers, etc).
If past experiences, training and culture effect how computer user interfaces work, surely the same goes for churches as “user interface.”