What Good Looks Like

Apps We Love: 3 Examples of Delightful UX

Productive software shouldn’t be afraid to have fun. Here’s to experiences that get the job done and make you chuckle.

Welcome back to our Apps We Love series, where I highlight some of the key building blocks and principles of great design—as I see them. In each post I isolate a different principle, call out some examples that really stand out to me, and then deconstruct them to show you why I think they work so well.

Our first post in the series shared examples of purposeful UX, which is a foundational principle, but is definitely also a little bit highbrow. We’re not always so buttoned up as that at Nonfiction. So this time I’d like to talk about something we think is also critical to engaging users: good old-fashioned fun.

Enjoyment is a huge part of why people stick with a software product—even a B2B one. We want a dash of delight on top of our productivity.

Brain science tells us that chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which we get from an enjoyable UX experience, are addictive. The more you can make people smile and chuckle and feel good as they use your app, the more likely you are to see adoption and positive reviews.

Here’s a list of UX experiences that put a grin on my face.


Google Keyboard

Apple’s keyboard is fine but the Google Keyboard (available for both Android and your iPhone) is the blue ribbon winner.

delight-gboard

A screenshot of using Google keyboard to add a GIF to an email.

What they do:

Smartphone keyboards are more than just letters and numbers these days, and Google Keyboard really understands that. I can swipe a finger around the keyboard to spell out the slang words and names I commonly use. I can punctuate with built-in GIFs as easily as I can with emojis. Plus—with a combination of recently used suggestions, simple swipe gestures, and search—the speed at which I can express myself is incredible.

Google has taken the idea of the simple keyboard and expanded past utilitarianism without sacrificing simplicity.

What they don’t do:

Google doesn’t let all the fun distract you from getting down to business and just typing when you need to. Drafting up a critical business email? All the silliness takes a back seat and lets you get down to business. You can be as serious with this tool as you want to be—but the whimsy is there for you whenever you want to be goofy.


Asana

Asana is a powerhouse project management tool that injects just a touch of unexpected fun here and there to keep you alert and amused.

delight-asana

A screenshot of a celebratory narwhal swimming across the screen in Asana – www.asana.com

What they do:

Asana has a special feature that celebrates the completion of tasks with a little animation. Now, we all know that checking off a task already gives us a boost of happy brain chemicals, but that’s nothing compared to watching an animated unicorn or yeti celebrate my completed task. The best part about this is that it is random. It doesn’t occur every time, and isn’t always the same character. That incorporates the element of surprise. Surprise intensifies emotion, openness, and memorability, according to experts like suprisologist Tania Luna.

I’ve completed thousands of tasks in Asana and I still get a shot of surprise and joy every time I complete a task and a random unicorn dances across my screen.

What they don’t do:

While surprising, the effect is non-invasive. It’s quick, it’s effective, then it gets out of your way and lets you focus on productivity. Don’t like the feature? You can turn it off. Easy.


Slack

I’m sure you’ve used the app, but have you ever read the release notes that come with each update? Slack’s release notes might well be some of the best written copy in the software industry, full stop. I always read them.

delight-slack

A screenshot of the Slack release notes in the Mac app store – www.slack.com

What they do:

Honestly, with most software, release updates are dry, boring, and barely worth scanning. Slack’s release notes are anything but. They remind you to have fun even in the most mundane moments. The writing in their releases is perfect. Light and irreverent, it is on brand with the company’s casual approach to business communication, and it’s also interesting enough to make me read the whole thing—a spoonful of sugar that helps to educate me while entertaining me.

The humor is professional-grade. Even after dozens of releases I still find myself grinning and even laughing aloud when I read them. Plus, it is ingenious, because it also makes me a better and more informed user of their product.

What they don’t do:

Slack doesn’t ever let the fun overwhelm the message. They still deliver all the important info—clearly, in a prioritized fashion, and without confusion. And, when necessary, they will shift from humor to sincerity when an update is fixing a mistake they made. I appreciate Slack’s ability to make a communication I would normally skip something I look forward to and read to the end.