Delight, cakes and movies

August 2016

Build tension like Polanski

Everybody talks about delight lately and it is getting a bit boring but 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, please. Cherry on top.

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

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 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, you earned the magic and the user is ready to be delighted. In simple words, it is not the animation in the icon but how everything else built up the expectation for that animation.

The magic moment is just the cherry on top and the cherry 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 happy and ready. To worry about moments of delight, worry about creating a perfect experience and then delivering the delight would be easy. Just like the cherry, it’ll be easy to place but everyone will love it.

One last note on cherries though: careful with the quantities. I am a Spaniard living in London and that made me understand why this country has more convertibles per capita than any other. The sun shines so much in Spain that a convertible feels like having cake for desert everyday. Nobody buys convertibles in Spain. Delight in abundance is boring.

It seems obvious but even the best forget about it. You know the story, ‘the first animation was great, the second was ok and now I just want to get to my email’. Moral of the story: Don’t think about creating moments of delight, think about earning them. If you build a great experience, the delight will come easy but keep it rare and magical.