"Even if it is true that the average man seems most comfortable with the commonplace and familiar, it is equally true that catering to bad taste, which we so readily attribute to the average reader, merely perpetuates that mediocrity and denies the reader one of the most easily accessible means for aesthetic development and eventual enjoyment." - Paul Rand
Delight. Surprise. Joy.
These are not usually words that are used when talking about web design. They are not at the forefront of our business decisions. Its hard to prove the ROI on some small moment of delight in a design that requires a little extra time and attention (although I do believe that you will see a negative ROI when it doesn’t happen). Time-lines, budgets and even business goals can often overshadow the benefit of designing for moments of delight.
However, there are two genuine benefits to adding a little joy to the experience:
- excitement about your product and brand leading to increased engagement
- something memorable that people will share and tell others about
It is this little moment–whether a smart helper tool-tip that clarifies what to enter into a form field so that I will be successful or the little hidden graphic that reveals itself with some little interaction–that brings a smile to the users face, makes them laugh or just feel secure and confident in their actions. Never underestimate the power of delight to improve the users’ experience.
The service industry has known this secret forever. There is a very short space of time and limited interaction to shape the experience for the customer. In these moments, the customer can be pleasantly surprised by the little extras: the attention to details, speed of service, some extra “whatever” or even just a smile. If the customer walks away feeling like there was a little extra attention paid to them, you can guarantee they will be back and most likely will tell their friends about it as well.
I have come across a number of sites recently that illustrate this very well. Here are a few that genuinely provided a moment of delight (or many in some cases!)
http://www.blueskyresumes.com/about-us/#our-team (but there are many of these moments on this site)
http://analog.coop/ (click-drag the image at top… and there are others)
http://www.pictorymag.com/ (use the arrow keys to navigate)
http://theshipandthesea.com/ (scroll down)
http://www.thinkingforaliving.org/ (very innovative keyboard navigation)
http://workshopsfortheweb.com/ (re-size the browser)
While some may argue that this is superfluous or trivial, I would disagree. As Paul Rand said, "Good design adds value of some kind, gives meaning, and, not incidentally, can be sheer pleasure to behold; it respects the viewer’s sensibilities and rewards the entrepreneur."
Do yourself a favor—reward your users with a little bit of fun. After all, a little bit of joy can go a long way.