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In Search of Delightful Experience

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

Delight: please (someone) greatly or great pleasure.

Synonyms: pleasure, happiness, joy, joyfulness, glee, gladness, gratification, relish, excitement, amusement and more…
Emoji’s —

Delight is the inner feeling of happiness that is evoked by a sense of accomplishment or by an element of surprise. These positive emotions are mostly invisible and a very important factor in influencing the process of building positive perception and decision making.

“In the digital world, it is not just enough to primarily focus on usability and functional aspect of the products. We also need to focus on user delight, excitement and engagement while designing experiences for these products.”

It is that special bit of something (a secret sauce or ingredient) that adds flavour to overall experience above any usable product.

This leads us to an important question — “Is there a formula to design for delight?”

Frankly, there is no simple or straight forward answer to it. Human emotions could be more complicated than we think. Delight is behavioural so unpredictable.

The key is to conduct regular research into who your users are, what motivates them, and genuinely care about their expectations to build a great engaging product. It is very important to immerse yourself into their environment and constantly study the emotional response of the users.

“You should truly embark a perilous journey on a higher path in search of delightful experience for the users.”
Journey —

It is very important for us as designers to choose the right path that evokes happiness, excitement and pleasure within users. More importantly understand the human psychology and social aspects closely. There is no single solution for everything and we need to find that special something in every product that transforms it from good to great.

The techniques like biometrics, facial, vocal analysis should be combined along with ethnographic methods like usability testing, eye tracking, true intent studies and diary studies (self-reporting) to unlock the answers that we seek.

Above all, we need to be a keen learner and observer of the universe, adapt and test identified experiences into our products. Many a times we would fail, and in failure we learn to adapt and learn something entirely new.

For instance, I have always tried to observe and continue to learn many lessons around my ecosystem. More often, small moments in our life teach us the best lessons and I would like to share some of my experiences and learning with you.

1. Flappy Bird Game: The game is a side scroller where the player controls a bird, attempting to fly between columns of green pipes without hitting them. It taught me an important lesson that “a product in its simplest form could be immensely pleasurable and engaging for the users.” Surprisingly, the game developer “Nguyen” never intended the game to be so popular and took down the game later. The game was purely retro, extremely tough and incredibly fun to play.

Simple game of Flappy Bird
Simple game of Flappy Bird

2. Lost & Found Items: Have you ever tumbled upon a long lost item you loved the most or some cash when you needed the most. It just brings you immense excitement and happiness that cannot be described in words.

It reflects on a valuable insight that “an element of surprise really boost the positive feelings within people.” It helps in building a positive perception of the company and brand. For Example: It might be a free add-ons while shopping for your favourite products or it could be a complimentary dessert at a restaurant.

 Long lost cash found Image
Long lost cash found

3. Concept of Reusable Element: It was time to honour our promise and buy some new toys for our kid. We were on budget and we had a difficult task of balancing two variables, best value for money and also to bring smile on our child’s face. We carefully guided our kid from most expensive toys and bargained our way to buy monster trucks.

The toy store was pretty crowded so we could not see through the package. We focused at the price and number of monster trucks we could buy for him. We ended up buying a pack of two with some truck outer bodies, which we felt was about to be crushed in no time.

Ford Monster Trucks Image
Ford Monster Trucks —

We were wrong, they were not merely empty truck bodies, but a smartly designed toy. To our surprise the outer body of the truck could be detached and replaced by an entirely new body. Above all our son was really excited to know that he could have different colours of monster trucks at any time.

A simple concept of reusable component was applied, which bought so much excitement to the kids and their parents. It made me realise “how a smart reusable concept brings excitement and joy to the users or customers.” Many a time we end up researching on many requirements and end up building a bloated product with multiple features. This is the very reason concept of minimal viable product has been followed widely.

4. Gamification aspect in a Garbage Bin: I noticed a garbage bin on my way to work. It was a very normal looking public garbage bin, but what caught my eye was the upper portion of the bin. It was tilted inward with an interesting picture of a dart board.

Garbage Bin on the way to Slough Image
Garbage Bin on the way to Slough

An overall idea is to challenge the passer-by to throw their garbage aiming at the centre of the dart board. It was simple and novel way to dispose garbage around the area. It would definitely influence people to change their garbage disposal behaviour and possibly help in reducing the littering around the surroundings.

It brings me to another point that “it is in our nature to crave for challenge and we find a sense of achievement, satisfaction and fun through the toughest situations.”

5. Visual route map in Piccadilly Train: Millions of travellers commute through London Underground Tubes. It is undoubtedly one of the most sophisticated rail network in the world. The trains are well equipped with marked directions and detailed maps.

In spite of having everything in place, it was noticed that commuters are many a time confused while reading the tube map. The reason behind the confusion is possibly due to overwhelming of information presented within a limited real estate of the poster.

London Visual Map Image
Visual Map —

The solution was found in the same rail network in a Piccadilly line train. This map was different, an info graphic map, depicting the entire journey along with the important tourist locations in a visual form. I would see the sparkle in the eyes of the commuters with some of them clicking the photo of the map.

It taught me that “people simply love to read information in a graphical form, they seem to connect in a positive way”. It was observed that some people made instant plan to exit at a station to visit a nearby iconic location viewed in the map.

6. Buskers in London Underground: While travelling to work through several tubes around London, I could see some musicians with their instruments displaying their talents. Travelling could be very hectic and tedious, and these musicians take the opportunity to fill that void by playing one of the best tunes.

It was undoubtedly one of the best and unique experiences, while travelling through London Underground tubes. Suddenly, all the noises, tiredness, frustrations and sorrow vanish for a moment and all you feel is “happiness” and “joy”. The best that I could do was to “relish” every moment of time as long as it lasts.

Musicians on London Underground Image
Musicians on London Underground — Digital Spy

It made me realise that not everything needs to be monetised and sometimes calculation of return on investment seems to be irrelevant. It is very significant for us to focus on “Designing for Happiness”, which will lead to the ultimate path to attend “bliss”, a state of perfect happiness. A state of mind where nothing really matters, you do not expect anything, just a moment to feel happy.

These were some of the lighter versions of delight and there are much more deeper meaning of it. I would further write about it in my next article. I would love to hear it from you, so please do share your thoughts on what was the moment when you felt happiness — -ultimately delighted.

Happy Reading!

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