UX 101: Creating WOW! Moments in Your Software/Website

One of the biggest revolutions of the past 5-10 years has been the focus on the user for both software and website design. At one time, user experience issues were an afterthought, something to be caught during testing (if at all). The focus was on the company’s version of how their product was to be used and whom would use it. This shift in focus has largely been due to the fact that many of these assumptions were wrong. It is often illuminating for a development team, not to mention designers, to watch actual users use their products. Anyone who has ever taken part in a usability test know that, quite often, users use products in unexpected ways. Even companies with a robust UX process (user stories, personas, etc.) can be shocked to see their product used by actual people. Plus, as the people who build things, it can be easy to forget the people on the other side of the screen. It is very easy to get caught up in the elegance of one’s code, or the ingenious use of new technologies, and completely forget the experience layer of what you are building. And, it is the experience layer of your product that will actually get your product used, and if you are lucky, promoted. Many of the best user experiences when it comes to software (or websites/web-apps) have to do with what we call “WOW!” moments. Moments where some function works better than what the user was expecting. Software that does more than it was asked to, in a way that is not only delightful, but also unexpected. These moments create delight and delight opens the door for your product to get used more, for more time AND by more people. Now, that is not to say that WOW moments are easy. In fact, they are usually extremely hard to come by, especially if you are trying to build them on purpose. Most often, these experiences flow out of a mindset, of unapologetically putting the user first and truly looking at your product through their eyes. They come from taking the time to dig a little deeper, to try a little harder, to look at a problem and find the solution that matches “what would be awesome is if it…” Like a lot of people, I have this experience a lot with my cell phone. Right now is an incredible time to be a consumer of gadgets of any kind, and this especially goes for cell phones. I am often amazed by all of the little touches that go into the product. For me, those are the experience with my phone that stand out. And, because of this, I am not only brand loyal (thus, willing to invest in an entire ecosystem of apps and accessories), but I also recommend my phone to other “power users” I know who would get the same benefit. Here is one little example. The screen on my phone, like most modern smartphones, is very bright. Even with auto-dimming, the screen is still very bright, especially in the dark. Recently, I spent a lot of time using Google Navigation, and I had a “wow” moment when I realized that the background of the map changes color at night. To lower the abuse your eyes are taking (especially when driving at night, which is especially hard on the eyes), someone was smart enough to think about changing the background color on the map from a light tan to a dark gray. At night, especially when driving, this makes all the difference. But, the best part was realizing that someone had to make it do that on purpose. Someone had to take the time to consider people like me, and what I would be doing with the phone, and made a very smart choice about how to handle my particular use case. These minor little moments are so special, and so very critical to the adoption of your software. That is, with SO many pieces of software available today, on so many different platforms, being OK is just not good enough anymore. To me, at least, it is these “wow” moments that separates the software I use and the software I don’t. At Surge, we place a lot of priority and effort in building “wow” moments into software. In our opinion, it has been a big secret to our success. If your software needs more “wow” moments, use one of the contact buttons on the right and let’s talk how Surge can help you create more delight in your product.

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