Charles Hannon is professor of computing and information studies at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania. He teaches courses in human-computer interaction, the history of information technology, information visualization, and project management. His research interests lie at the intersection of language, cognition, and usability. He also writes about William Faulkner, and is the author of Faulkner and the Discourses of Culture (2005), which won the C. Hugh Holman prize in southern literary studies.
For a few years now, a mild debate has simmered over "delightful" interaction design. For some, features that instill delight, as long as they don’t interfere with the fundamental capabilities of the system, sit with pleasure atop Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as redrawn for interactive systems.
Others don’t really care about such features, or place "delight" alongside "frictionless" and "seamless" as just the latest buzzwords (leaving "scalable" and "disruptive" in their dust). What none of these design partisans gets is the place of delight in a much larger process that everyone can enjoy: the hearing of a good joke.
In the first television advertisement for the iPad, the narrator intoned, “It’s crazy powerful. It’s magical. You already know how to use it.” This was an astonishing claim. Here was a new, market-defining, revolutionary device, unlike anything we had seen before, and we already knew how to use it. And yet, for the most part, the claim was true.
How does a company like Apple make such great new things that people already know how to use? One answer lies in the ability of Apple designers to draw upon patterns that people are familiar with.