Delight, cakes and movies

Moment of delight
An unexpected effect or detail that appears after performing a common interaction and generates a feeling of delight and pleasure. I.E. The cute animation and sound that appears after pulling to refresh a list in some mobile apps.

Who doesn’t want some? The thump of that car door. The smell of new sneakers. The weight of a fork in a good restaurant. That swoosh that reassures you that your message is on its way. I want some and I am not even the one spending the money! Yes, give me some. Cherry on top.

But relax with the magic, as a professional liar that pays the bills with it, I must confess; the trick is not in the cherry but in making it look like it is.

Like a good scare in a horror movie, the trick is what came before. Like in erotism, it is what is not shown. Like in great art, it is the idea in the head of the spectator. Magic is not what but when. Magic happens in public but it is built in secret with very boring materials.

Watch a classic Polanski movie (the Tenant is just perfect). Nothing happens for most of the movie so when it happens it blows your mind. He earned that moment with two hours of anticipation. And if anticipation is the currency for a great event, the currency for magic in intearction is a simple, flawless, clear and light experience. I told you, moments of delight are built with very boring materials! Fast loading times, clear type, unequivocal messaging, easy interaction, no thinking… all very dull and expected, nothing magical but when it all just works, the magic is built and ready to be delivered.

The magic moment is just the cherry on top and it is only great when the cake is great. That is, moments of delight only work when the user experience is perfect and the user is already delighted. To worry about moments of delight, first worry about creating a perfect experience and then deliver the delight. Just like the proverbial cherry, it’ll be easy but it'll feel great.

Careful with the quantities though. I am a Spaniard living in London and I now really understand why this country has more convertibles per capita than any other country. The sun shines so much in Spain that it feels like having cake for desert everyday. Nobody buys convertibles in Spain. Too much delight can kill the pleasure.

It seems obvious but even the best forget about it, some build entire experiences around moments of delight which mostly arrive undeserved and repetitively. You know the story, ‘the first animation was great, the second was ok and now I just want to get to my email’.

Don’t think about creating moments of delight, think about earning them. If you build a great experience, the delight will come easy 😉

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