Thoughts on Delight

My thoughts on the word 'delight' and what it means for users

Thoughts on Delight
Photo by Jacqueline Munguía / Unsplash

I often hear the words "delight our users", but what does it really mean? I am not an expert in user research or delight, but it is a word I too have used a lot in the past and  I am going to try and work out what I think it means for me.

I don't think delight means:

  • Show visually appealing designs - UI
  • I don't think it is about creating baby steps and holding users through a complicated process, this feels like a Microsoft wizard - UX
  • I don't think it is about telling people exactly what to do and leaving them to do it - Instructions
  • I don't think it is about having lots of features that give users infinite possibilities
  • I don't think it's necessarily giving people additional things they didn't want

I do think delight means:

  • Ensuring the user can do what they came to do with the least amount of friction or distraction
  • Making it so simple anyone can use it, no wizards, instructions required
  • Solving their problem fully and completely, in a way that makes you the default way they would solve it again in future by choice
  • Doing it efficiently, fast, authentic and reliably
  • Going beyond expectations - different to additional things they didn't want

Additional things and going beyond aren't the same thing. If I buy a new car, I want to pick up my car, I want the experience to be great, ready on time, minimum paper work and process, no issues with the car. I want to get my keys and get on my way.

If I get flowers, you gave me additional things I didn't want or need, it's nice, it doesn't provide me with delight.

You will delight me if the fuel tank is full, I didn't expect it, you went beyond my expectations, you removed the friction of me needing to fill up the car right away.

The big difference in these two is need, I didn't need flowers, I did need fuel, I expected neither. You can still delight me without extras though.

When I was running VIX Digital, I used to always say to the team we 'delight the clients'. The team knew what it meant. It meant we did whatever we could to ensure the client was left happy that they chose to work with us in the first place.

That could be the thing we built, how we operated with them, our pricing, documentation, our manners. It didn't mean going in a smart Boss suit with a Monte Blanc pen all looking the part. That would have been all UI, the UX would have been horrible and it would have made us look like we thought we were hiding behind the gloss.

In reality we did the following things to name a few:

  • Turn up on time
  • Tested our tech before meeting with them
  • Fair pricing, transparently
  • Taking great notes and following up with them when we said we would
  • Doing the hard work to make things as simple as possible
  • When we built our products, every pixel was important and needed a purpose that would contribute to solving a problem, if it didn't we tried to remove it

I can't say I have always delighted people with what I do or the things I have produced, but I always try to start with the problem and highlight the friction that can and should be removed. I prefer to start with that, not with fancy designs and visual propositions.