What is User Delight?

Previously we mentioned that…

“It’s not simply enough that we build online products that are usable and functional. We also need to design experiences that bring delight, excitement, and engagement to people’s lives.”
If it’s not enough to build usable and functional products, how can we ensure we are bringing delight to our users? Is it simply a case of adding slick animations to the User Interface and creating a personalised copy to hook and engage your readers? Well, no!
User Experience delight isn’t just aesthetics. It’s also the usability of your product, the accomplishments your user feels, and how you exceed the user’s expectations of your product. To accomplish this, we must first understand the relationship between user needs and user delight. We can then differentiate between the two areas of UX Delight:  Surface and Deep delight.
Definition: User Delight refers to any positive emotional effect that a user may have when interacting with a device or interface. User Delight may not always be expressed outwardly, but it can influence the behaviours and opinions formulated while using a website or application.


The above pyramid explains the hierarchy of User Needs and is adapted from Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter.
As shown in Walter’s pyramid, when Designing for Emotion, our digital products must be:

Functional — they have to work to solve user problems.
Reliable — they need to be up and running at all times.
Usablethey offer a good user experience with emphasis on consistency. They also must be:

Pleasurable — this is where our DELIGHT is found.
To help us further understand the different levels of delight, Don Norman wrote about 3 levels of design in his book Emotional Design:

  • Visceral — first feeling about a product (or initial impact).
  • Behavioural — the total experience of using a product (how it performs).
  • Reflective — how the product makes you feel (what the product evokes in the user).

Now that we have a better understanding of user needs and how this leads to user delight we can now focus on the two areas of UX Delight.

Surface Delight

  • Surface delight refers to the things that are often very obvious and visceral in order to convey delight. We can create positive first impressions by drawing strong attention to our products and features.

    1. Beautiful User Interfaces

    High-quality and beautiful UI Design is an obvious way to add delight. However, bare in mind UI design does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with good UX design. UI decisions should always be based on UX research and aid in achieving the user’s goals.

    2. Microcopy

    Microcopy is another aspect of UX design that can instantly add delight. Microcopy is text that you include on forms, call to action buttons, footers, and 404 pages, for example. It can offer guidance if your users run into errors, or help reassure them before deciding to commit to something.

    For many companies, microcopy is an afterthought and often overlooked as an opportunity to connect with your users. Adding a friendly approach to errors or confirmations can make the user feel more comfortable…


    3. Animation

    Captivating (simple, fast, vivid, meaningful) animations can add surprise and delight. For example animation added to hamburger navigation can often make the interaction more engaging and fun.


    4. Affordance Transitions and Gestures

    Affordance refers to “a situation where an object’s sensory characteristics intuitively imply its functionality and use.” — Crowdcube

    For example, think switch inputs with labels, and the engaging on/off states. Including a smooth intuitive transition between these states adds a layer of delight.


    5. Typography

    Using the right font or style helps to achieve a visible hierarchy between headlines and paragraphs. Designers must implement scalable typography so that websites and apps fit every device, regardless of screen size.

    Deep Delight

    While surface delight is important, it’s deep delight that actually makes your product pleasurable.


    A delightful user experience is often about invisibility, it’s behavioural. Something that “just works” can be extremely delightful.
    If we create products that are friction-less and encourage users to get into that flow state, we’re creating happy, productive users and a deeper level of delight. Keeping users in a flow is about minimizing pain points, frustration and anxiety that users may experience throughout their user journey.
    The user’s delight is reflective of their experience.

    “Delight isn’t about your website or product at all, it’s actually about your user.”

    Delight is in how you can help users become better at the thing they’re trying to achieve. We need to research who our customers are, what’s important to them, and not just what they do on their screen.
    If you are answering these questions and striving to deliver the best means to meet them; you have more chance of creating those experiences that bring delight, excitement, and engagement to people’s lives.

Share This

Subscribe to our mailing list