Five killer ways to create delight

Gene Crawford explains how adding just the tiniest morsel of wonderment can keep your users coming back for more

This article first appeared in issue 237 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

There is one thing that will separate your web or mobile app from the herd, and that is creating something that is memorable or delightful to use. This might be by injecting humour or a special piece of design that is just beautiful or an interaction that makes someone smile. Yes, these are things that are very subjective and hard to pin down – and that’s the point.

Creating a moment of delight in your design comes after making it usable and accessible. Those are the two benchmarks that you must reach first. It must also fit within the design framework you are working with. If you are designing a high end banking application, then using humour is probably not the most appropriate choice. Also, if you are targeting an interaction that the user will be utilising over and over, then building up a complex set of interface elements just for the sake of looking pretty isn’t going to cut it either. The key is to work it into the overall soul of the design or keep it out of the way of people’s actions. The last thing you want to do is sacrifice usability or annoy users.

If you are creating a fun moment inside an app, it should also help solidify the overall brand, so if your brand is fun and clever, then using humour is a likely win. Another great area to work with is when something communicates data, like with a chart or graph. Animations can also be hugely useful because they can also be used to inform the user of how to use something.

Creating that small moment of delight will make your website or app memorable, and help users connect with it on a much deeper level. This will build goodwill and may also help alleviate concerns the user may have – or even buy you forgiveness if things go wrong in other areas of the design.

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