Perceptions of Quality

Perceptions of quality are the subject of Robert Persig’s Zen and the Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. He makes two points. One, that not everything we perceive can be reduced to what he called the church of reason. And two, that to be alive in this world we must not be frightened of getting involved in things that feel uncomfortable. So, science has its place, and not everything can be reduced to art and feelings. And on the other side, human appreciation is not reducible to science.

Persig uses the example of a couple who have to stop their motorcycle tour because they just can’t get down and dirty with learning how to adjust the tappets on the engine. In a word, they can’t engage with the world.

I remember a comment by a man giving a talk I listened to. Someone in the audience spoke of their association with a certain identity by saying that was how they felt. The speaker responded that he felt like a brain surgeon and was that enough to entrust people to his care?

Feeling something is not enough. There are the steps, the nuts and bolts of how things work that go to make up a product. Out of them comes quality. From that application of feeling and hands-on skills comes perceptions of quality.

Of course, everything depends on context.

Perceptions of Quality

Let’s talk about Flying Twigs.

When a potential customer picks up a card, they make mental calculations about its quality, even when they are not conscious of doing so. To assess and analyse and judge is part of who we are as humans. And that appreciation affects saleability. It also affects how readily a person will buy a card at a given price.

We are an e-commerce shop, so customers buy on trust, without having the opportunity to feel the quality of the goods. But when they buy a second and a third time, it’s the Perceptions of quality of the goods that keeps them as customers.

If you go into a shop selling cards at 99p, you can bet your bottom dollar that the paper is going to be flimsy compared to a more high quality card. A heavier weight board feels more substantial and high-quality, and so more valuable. and durability. It also gives the impression that the card is a special or important, rather than a disposable or low-cost option.

A lighter weight board feels less substantial and less impressive, which detracts from the perceived value of the card.

That said, a lighter weight board may be more appropriate for certain designs, such as delicate or whimsical cards.

Ultimately, the weight of the board is based on the intended use and design of the card, as well as the perceptions of quality of the finished product.

The Texture And Finish Of The Card

There are other factors though, such as the texture and finish of the board. These can also affect the feel and quality of the final product. As publishers, we have to consider all of these elements in combination when making decisions about cardstock. Greeting cards and quality are our bread and butter, so to speak. So we give more conscious thought to it than the casual customer. After all, a card is not, for example, a kitchen refit. If it were, then customers would spend hours, days, considering colours, materials, and textures.

Textured or Smooth Board?

The texture of the board is a tricky one. Some people prefer a more textured board. They feel that it implies quality. Others like a smoother board because they think it is more modern and fresh. It’s a tough call for publishers to decide which way to go. We favour a smoother board because it responds well to the printing process for all kinds of images. We made that decision a long time ago, and we always keep it under review.

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