Why I can’t stop chewing my pen! The importance of first experience.

I have a Google pen. I carry this everywhere, not because I’m a Googlephile but because it holds up well to being chewed. Gnaw on it as much as I like, my Google pen still writes as though it were fresh off the production line. Whenever I see my half-chewed pen rolling haplessly across my desk I think back to my school days and Freudian theory (I took Psychology A-Level). To quote Wikipedia:

“If the nursing child’s appetite were thwarted during any libidinal development stage, the anxiety would persist into adulthood as a neurosis (functional mental disorder). Therefore, an infantile oral fixation (oral craving) would be manifest as an obsession with oral stimulation”.

Was I weaned to early? Maybe. Do I chew my pen as a result? I hope not. What the bloody hell am I banging on about? I’ll get to that.

Early experience has a dramatic impact on future development; I think that’s something most would agree upon. The same can be applied to the workplace where the initial experience of a new joiner can influence the employee’s development in the long-term, their success and retention. It’s therefore essential that the induction experience for new joiners is seamless, organised and informative.

We’re often told that “first impressions” count and that “people make up their minds about you within the first 30 seconds of meeting you”, but why? The evolutionary advantage, I suppose, is that when the human race was frolicking about being chased by wolves, lions and aggressive ants, we needed to make snap judgements in order to survive. We also needed to make snap judgements about other human-beings to assess whether or not a person was a threat, a rival or a potential mate. (I’m not an anthropologist, so any challenge to this sweeping assumption is welcome).

The first experience of someone or something often has the strongest bearing on the future attitudes of the individual. Of course, outlooks can change, but it’s much harder to change someone’s mind than it is to subject them to a positive experience in the first place.

I’ve been thinking about this in practical terms – namely in relation to home pages. Remember Sonic The Hedgehog? The home screen for the game was one of the most memorable images of my video-gaming childhood.


It didn’t really have a point as the only option was to “start game”, but the home screen was the welcome, the onboarding process which provided a clear call to action – “start game” or turn off. The home screen was the biggest advertisement for the game and as I said, it’s the image that has stayed with me demonstrating how it has been seared into my brain. Here’s some other really memorable home screens:

twitter-startScreenfacebook screen

The conclusion, I’ve reached in a practical sense is the importance of a home screen or an induction that really sells the website, game or company which the individual is about to enter. It’s the first experience, and therefore it’s likely to be the strongest in terms of influencing attitude and approach. We neglect the first experience at our peril! If your home screen or induction process is rubbish, it lays a wobbly foundation for the next stage of the journey.

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