Hidden Delights in Everyday Software

Brian Christiansen

January 26th, 2007

Designers don’t always get to build marquis software. Not every project is going to be the next Flickr or YouTube. A lot of designers butter their bread on everyday software, which may not be as glamorous, but is certainly important to the target audience. Everyday, however, doesn’t need to need mean mundane. A touch of class can go a long way to putting a smile on a customer’s face, even if they’re just sorting their email addresses.

Khoi Vinh, the Design Director of NYTimes.com, discovered a bit of hidden joy the other day in his Address Book, a bundled app with Mac OS X. He intended to update a contact that he already had a vCard for, with a new one he’d just received. Having never done this before, he feared duplicating his entry, but instead was surprised and delighted by the care that was paid to such a situation.

To my surprise, something unexpected happened: Address Book launched, alright, but a brand new screen appeared, one I hadn’t ever seen before. It identified the new vCard as a duplicate, highlighted the updated data, and offered to let me choose between retaining the original card, retaining the new card, retaining both, or simply updating the old card with the new information. I chose the last of those options, which also happened to be the default.

Khoi continues on, making some other great observations on taking pride in the little things to bring joy to your users. Have you made someone smile today?

3 Responses to “Hidden Delights in Everyday Software”

  1. Tinus Says:

    Well, not today, but each monday morning I do something under the hood of our CMS just to satisfy my clients. I made a long list of things that aren’t directly necessary, because they’re allmost never used, but all in all it adds to the quality of my product. How I know what to do? Eat your own dogfood. I maintain several sites using this CMS.

    I never had a single client asking me why the heck we have a maintenance fee. They just know.

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