There is this general notion of different “hierarchies” in the user experience – below expectations, meets expectations, exceeds expectations etc… the holy grail being “delight” .
It’s easy to find textbook definitions of delight. In practice though, I don’t feel like there are many apps or services that bring this sense of exhilaration or surprise. Maybe I’m just cynical – not much is new anymore in apps – but most tend to focus on being functional (and don’t get me wrong, functional is great too, just not delightful).
Like a child again
Two apps have recently taught me (or reminded me) how it feels like to be surprised, delighted even. From the tech giants no less: the new Google Calendar and Facebook Messenger.
I really like the playfulness of material design, but it was two particular incidents in using Google Calendar’s schedule view that made me giggle like a pre-schooler (inside). The first was saving a “Dinner” event, and realising that Calendar had added a beautiful background to the event text. (Yes, I started trying different words just to see what backgrounds existed.)
The second was on January 1, 2015. Each new Calendar month is marked by a break in the schedule, with yet another pretty background banner to herald a new start. Now I had seen this a few times already, but around New Year’s, the team took it up a notch, making the banner larger and adding fireworks (the one you see on the left – I wish I could describe it better). I didn’t expect this while scrolling down my schedule, and it made me stop and scroll back, just to watch it. Kudos to the Calendar team!
This app is nowhere near my most-used messaging app, but lately they’ve managed to delight me. Now there is a lot of love in Messenger’s design (down to the sounds made – you can watch this video for more insight), and they’ve surprised us before with features like chat heads, (as a side note one chat heads – wow! I don’t know of anyone who saw this potential in Android – I think Pocket, Evernote and Buffer’s saving pop-ups owe a lot to this) but I’ll just highlight another two experiences…
The first was a tweak to the “Like” button – where instead of just sending the iconic “Thumbs Up”, you could vary it’s size based on how long you held the button. Frivolous? Yes. Fun? Yes. The second was during Christmas – where I realised my friends either had tons of dandruff, or their chat heads were snowing. Frivolous? Yes. Unexpected and a pleasant surprise? Yes.
To the teams showering the love on Google Calendar and Facebook Messenger, thank you. As a PM I can imagine it being difficult to prioritise a fun-but-delightful feature – please keep challenging us to deliver both business value and delight!