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Delightful products and what’s after the MVP

Design products your users will love

There are some amazing web and mobile apps out there! Usually these will not only help you accomplish the tasks you want to achieve, but will also provide some fun, with interactions, games, or experiences that include a unique character or tone of voice. Here, we’re going to figure out what separates the products that provide purely functional services and those that are made to delight the user.

Minimum viable product

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MVP, as you probably know, stands for the bare minimum a product should deliver to the users. What is the main function of the product, and what do we need to develop it? An MVP is a great beginning to a development process because it sets a clear goal for a company. It makes sense to make sure that a digital product should deliver its main functionality, right?

Minimum lovable product

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An MVP is a great start, but it lacks something. Users need an MLP—minimum lovable product. An MLP will offer a product that users will love. It represents the minimum that users would need in order to adore a product, even from the very beginning of the usage—because we all need a little bit more than soft functionality from a product.

You can even define this for yourself. What are your favorite digital products and why? What is the special ingredient they offer you so that you always come back to them? Is it a great interface design, interaction, or additional functionality that fits perfectly with the main functionalities?

Designing objects for fun and pleasure

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In his book Emotional Design, Don Norman talks about designing products for fun and pleasure. He explains why technology should offer more than the improved performance of a task; he suggests that a product should add richness and enjoyment to our life. He also talks about the psychology of pleasure, of delight; about negative and positive emotions and what impact those are having on our existence.

Beaty, fun, and pleasure all work together to produce enjoyment, a state of positive effect.

—Don Norman

 

So why should a product be delightful? The simplest answer is that if we associate a product with positive emotions and feelings, we tend to return to it and continue using it. Such emotions have a huge positive effect and improve our life. Studies show that positive emotions help us to cope with stress and relax, and encourage people’s curiosity, playfulness, ability to learn, etc.

On the other hand, negative emotions are associated with a negative impact on our life. Even if a product is functional, if it is lacking the minimum level of interaction with the user or providing pleasure, the user will begin associating this product with neutral or negative emotion based on the overall experience. Because of this psychological impact, people tend to ignore or avoid interaction with things that evoke negative emotions. Meaning your product will be in the blacklist of the user’s mind.

For example, let’s take a bank app. Rather than just showing you massive tables of information, the product could offer you a colorful summary of what you need to know. You don’t always necessarily need to just look at tables and figure everything out yourself. You might need a bank statement, an overview of your money balance, or to track the type of monthly expenses you have. Why not make even the banking experience more pleasurable, fun, and easy? The fact that an action is associated with seriousness doesn’t mean that fun shouldn’t be included!

How can you add a “lovable” ingredient to your product?

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Ideally, when you are still in the initial stage of the product development, you’ve run some user research with the targeted audience. As part of this research, the product team will try to find out the needs, wants, pains, and gains of the user. It’s important that you focus not only on their needs but their so-called wants. The wants will help you and the designers imagine what could be the bare minimum of a pleasurable product. For this part, engineers are helpful, but the product needs a visionary—an artist person. Someone who can go beyond the numbers, logic, and functionalities to imagine how the product might be in the future so it will be pleasurable for usage.

And even if your product has already launched, you could still add some awesomeness to it. Go and talk to users. Sit with the product strategist and their team and imagine what could make your product lovable.

Make a difference

People like and choose things with which they can associate on a subconscious level. People like playfulness, straight-forward communication, and easy-to-use services. That’s why many play games, and like to click the purchase button so they can see the “congratulations!” message.

Make a difference with your product and deliver the best to your users. Create a positive emotional connection—have it be the product they would love to use, recommend, and talk about!

And even if your product has already launched, you could still add some awesomeness to it. Go and talk to users. Sit with the product strategist and their team and imagine what could make your product lovable.

If you’re interested in reading more about designing delightful products, try these books:

Emotional Design – Don Norman

Designing Pleasurable Products – Patrick W. Jordan

Thank you for reading! 💜

GEO STUDIO is a brand and digital design studio based in Berlin. 

Contact us if you need help with the design of your project or you want to share feedback.