Surprise and Delight

We are taught a set of skills important for our growth and survival as people: communication, arithmetic, wellness, and others. But no one teaches us how to perceive the world. To delight someone is to give a small lesson in how to see the world as something good. - Frank Chimero on Surprise, Delight, & Clarity

Recently, a friend of mine had dinner with the family who created the first automobile sun visor. It was remarkable to hear how the invention came to be. But perhaps most interesting of all was hearing about the two values that the drove the creation of the product.

Certainly they had a practical device on their hands - a piece of plastic and fabric that turned down from the inside of your car when the sun was in your eyes. You would you assume then that the overarching value would be helping drivers to see better. But instead, their values were much more guttural. They wanted their users to experience two things first and foremost: surprise and delight.

The idea was that someone who found themselves driving with the sun in their eyes would be surprised and delighted to find exactly what they needed, where they needed it, at precisely the moment when they needed it the most.

Surprise and delight drove the continued development of the product when they added features like a vanity mirror and then also when they installed a little light to see yourself when the sun went down.

I love how products and experiences like this make us feel.

In fact, it’s the very same feeling I have when I get off the phone with Zappos or leave a Trader Joe’s. It makes me excited to get in my car and drive west as the sun is going down just for the hell of it. Put simply, it makes me want to come back for more.

So, if surprise and delight are such powerful motivators, why is it that we spend so much time marketing our work for what it is and what it does rather than how it makes our users feel?

Surprise and delight your audience first. Then tell them what it is you do.

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