Thursday, April 16, 2009

Make me smile

"We have an air traffic delay.....blah...blah...blah". It's the usual stuff and I stop listening to the pilot as we are waiting on the 'plane at Amsterdam airport.

Suddenly I find myself listening again. The pilot is telling us to pay attention to the safety briefing, but he's doing it in a funny voice with a strange emphasis on the words. He almost shouts "safety". Wow that's unusual. The stewardess takes over and tells us that we should really watch the safety video because it's new and much, much less boring than the old one. It's not a great joke but again it has me listening. Listening to something I have heard many times before and usually ignore.

I am smiling. Smiling at British Airways - they have taken the trouble to think up a new way to grab our attention. It seems that they really care that I listen, at least that's the impression I have. The humour is surprising, unusual and very effective.

I think the use of humour in user experience is underrated and underused

I've mentioned before the surprised squeal of the Nintendo Wii Fit when you step on the balance board. That makes me smile. The Twitter Fail Whale is another great example. Even the simple "Ooops there seems to be an error" is infinitely better than the usual useless jargon you get upon failure. Apple of course are the masters of emotional engagement - I smile just thinking about their products!

With so many examples to learn from why are so many corporate websites still full of impenetrable, stifling blurb? What does that say about a company? I suppose someone thinks that fun equals frivolity, and that doesn't match the corporate image. Didn't anyone notice that humans make jokes about even the most serious of things? Laughter keeps us alive. Literally.

So this is a plea for more fun.

Think of ways you can liven up your websites and products. Quirky, amusing, unexpected little details that will make your users smile.

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