Two paths to surprise and delight

There’s more than one path to achieving surprise and delight in UX. You can take the subtle delight path, or the expressive path. Both options can create meaningful delight for your audience.

The first thing most people think of when they think of surprise and delight are big dramatic gestures. Like an animation and congratulatory message to celebrate a first sale, animated favorite or like buttons, explosions of confetti across the screen, and other similar displays. These big moment of personality can be great ways to add delight when the context fits, but they aren’t the only way.

The other path to delightful experiences is more subtle. It’s when things just work smoothly and effortlessly; when the design of an interface lowers the barrier to accomplishing your goals. When the app you’re using seems to anticipate your needs or next steps. Or when it makes it easier than you expected to do the task at hand. These more subtle wins can create meaningful moments of delight too.

Sometimes the big moments of personality are the right choice for creating delight, sometimes the more subtle path is the right choice, and sometimes it’s a combination of the two. The deciding factor is context. No matter which path to delight you choose, it will only work if it matches your audience’s goals and needs.

So, I guess, another way to put it is that success of delight in UX is defined by the audience, not the designer.

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