Thursday, June 08, 2006

User delight and the guy-from-the-train phenomenon

The power of "unexpected context"...

"One way to delight users is with the guy-in-the-unexpected-context phenomenon. You know the story: you take the same train to work every day. One Saturday afternoon you're in a cafe when you spot a familiar face at the next table. "Hey, it's the guy from the train!" you think, with a smile. Then the guy from the train notices you, and his eyes light up. You start a lively conversation moving from weather to espresso to geopolitical forces. You exchange URLs.

The thing is, you took the train with this guy for the last 18 months and never gave him a moment's thought...until you saw him at the cafe.

That's the power of unexpected context.

Even if you don't talk to the guy, seeing him in a completely different context is enough to make your brain light up. A feeling of delight. And it's that feeling of delight we (and our users) love.

[Disclaimer: common sense and logic apply. Say you're at a bluegrass concert and see the last person you'd expect: your ex-boyfriend, clearly on a hot date. This is the same ex who told you he'd start taking hostages if a banjo was involved. Not all out-of-context surprises are delightful.]

The unexpected context can be a Big Deal, like an airline letting you make a change to your flight without slapping a huge change fee on you and--much weirder--giving you a refund credit if your new fare is less than your original flight. You expect this kind of treatment from Nordstrom's. But in the context of an airline?"   continued ...   (Via Creating Passionate Users)

Where you'd least expect a vase - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

Where you'd least expect a vase


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