Designing Enjoyable – A Checklist Aside

What’s “Enjoyable?”

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“I’ll realize it after I see it.”

In 1964, in Jacobellis v. Ohio, the US Supreme Court docket wanted to determine whether or not the state of Ohio may ban a movie it known as “obscene”—an idea folks understood however had been hard-pressed to outline. Justice Potter Stewart, in his concurring opinion, wrote: “I shall not as we speak try additional to outline the sorts of fabric I perceive to be embraced inside that shorthand description; and maybe I may by no means reach intelligibly doing so. However I do know it after I see it, and the movement image concerned on this case shouldn’t be that.”

As designers, we get a variety of equally elusive adjectives from purchasers, as they inform us what they need their websites to be: “The location must be ‘cool,’” “It needs to be ‘thrilling,’” “I would like it to ‘pop.’” After we ask them to make clear, the reply we get again sounds so much like “I can’t let you know what it’s, however I’ll realize it after I see it.”

“Enjoyable” is a very tough idea to outline. And we’re beginning to hear it much more from purchasers as we design for various contexts of use.

The excellent news? All of us have an concept of what “enjoyable” is.  The dangerous information? The nuances in these concepts—amongst designers, purchasers, and most significantly, customers—can imply the distinction between a profitable venture and an unsuccessful one.

So what’s a designer to do?

Happily, it’s attainable to create designs which might be “enjoyable” with out resorting to the outdated “I’ll realize it after I see it” methodology. There’ll all the time be a component of subjectivity in designing enjoyable, however by defining, researching, constructing, and measuring, we will develop a long-term method for incorporating “enjoyable” into our designs. And possibly even have some enjoyable within the course of.

In my expertise designing for teenagers, I’ve had success designing for enjoyable through the use of a selected set of actions.  Whereas there’s no good formulation, these steps have helped me (and my purchasers) transfer previous the “I’ll realize it after I see it” phenomenon.

Steps for designing enjoyable#section3

  • Outline It
  • Rank It
  • Analysis It
  • Activity It Out
  • Take a look at It

Outline It#section4

Within the late ’90s, I designed a youngsters’ web site for Georgia Public Tv.  We had nice necessities, a motivated consumer, a wonderful group of child collaborators, and super-cool content material. We performed a great deal of analysis and iterated by way of paper prototype assessments to verify we had been heading in the right direction. However once we confirmed our consumer—we’ll name her Barbara—the primary spherical of design comps, she regarded crestfallen. She stated, “It’s good, but it surely’s not ‘enjoyable.’” We had been shocked. What about our lovely, colourful, inviting screens wasn’t “enjoyable?”

We came upon that Barbara’s definition of “enjoyable” was totally different than ours. She needed one thing with motion, and our designs, beautiful as they had been, didn’t transfer. Happily, in 1998, including “motion” meant throwing a few animated GIFs on the house display, so we had been capable of repair the issue fairly shortly. However the bigger problem—that we didn’t agree on what “enjoyable” meant—put us liable to making our consumer (and doubtlessly our younger customers) sad.

What we should always have executed originally of the venture was operationally outline “enjoyable”—to provide you with an agreed-upon definition and set of expectations to information us—after which consider that definition with customers throughout analysis.

Right here’s an instance of what an operational definition would possibly appear to be for the same venture:

Operational Definition: “FUN” means partaking six–eight year-old youngsters and fogeys in sudden methods, utilizing characters and movies from XYZ TV present to amuse, inform, and entertain.

For this web site to be “enjoyable” it should embrace:

  • movement and sound (each person generated and non-user generated),
  • daring colours and background textures,
  • imagery as a substitute of textual content (the place attainable),
  • quick, action-oriented copy blocks,
  • video clips embedded within the design,
  • alternatives for “sudden” interplay, and
  • “game-like” exploration.

You’ll need to evolve the expectations based mostly on what you study from customers, however defining “enjoyable” earlier than you begin designing it helps set you up for achievement.

When you agree on a definition, search for examples of web sites, merchandise, or apps that illustrate that definition, in addition to examples of issues that don’t. These examples will assist purchasers perceive the definition and determine in the event that they agree. They’ll additionally provide you with supplies to make use of throughout analysis.

Rank It#section5

Work out how essential “enjoyable” is to the location as a complete. Will it fail fully if it’s not enjoyable? Or will including enjoyable parts distinguish it from its opponents and make it extra pleasurable to make use of? You don’t want complicated calculations and quantitative rating right here, only a fast prioritization train to see how a lot or how little you need to emphasize enjoyable through the design course of.

Listed here are some questions to make use of when rating enjoyable:

  1. Why would you like the location to be enjoyable?
  2. How will a enjoyable web site affect your customers? (Will it assist/hinder folks from finishing duties or getting content material?)
  3. How does “enjoyable” slot in with the location’s content material, message, and actions?
  4. How will a enjoyable web site have an effect on how folks understand the product or model?
  5. How will your web site fare towards opponents whether it is (or isn’t) enjoyable?

Based mostly in your solutions to those questions, rank “enjoyable” on a scale of 1–3, the place one is the best precedence and three the bottom.

  1. A rank of 1 means enjoyable is crucial to the location’s success. Conduct intensive person analysis to see in case your definition is appropriate, revise if essential, then laminate your definition and grasp it on the partitions of everybody concerned within the venture. Add the definition to your necessities and enlist venture stakeholders in making certain it’s met by way of the design and performance.
  2. A rank of two means enjoyable will improve your customers’ web site expertise and differentiate you from opponents. Do some interviews to see if customers agree together with your definition, after which add it to your necessities as a medium-priority merchandise. Be certain that the group retains the definition in thoughts when designing.
  3. A rank of three means enjoyable will enhance the location expertise, however customers received’t really feel an amazing impression if it’s not enjoyable. Do some fast surveys to see if customers outline “enjoyable” in the identical manner you do, and add your definition to the necessities as “good to have.”

Analysis It#section6

When you’ve outlined and prioritized “enjoyable,” you’ll must see in case your customers really feel the identical manner. The analysis approach(s) you select for this rely in your definition and rating.

Some analysis choices embrace:

  • Surveys: Surveys will provide you with self-reported informational traits about how folks really feel. You received’t get a variety of perception into how enjoyable impacts person habits from surveys, however you’ll be capable to study in case your customers outline enjoyable the identical manner you do.  Surveys may make it easier to quantify and rank person attitudes.
  • Interviews: Interviews allow you to observe customers’ reactions as you present them the examples you gathered. You’ll additionally be capable to ask follow-up questions whenever you want extra info. You received’t get statistically related outcomes, however you’ll have an opportunity to see customers’ thought processes along with understanding their definition of “enjoyable.”
  • Observational Research: If you happen to’ve ranked “enjoyable” as extremely essential to the location’s success, chances are you’ll need to conduct observational research.  These allow you to watch folks use the instance websites you’ve chosen. You’ll be capable to see first-hand how customers outline enjoyable. Extra importantly, you’ll see how and if enjoyable impacts their habits.

It actually doesn’t matter what approach you employ so long as you consider your definition with the individuals who will likely be utilizing the location.

Activity It Out#section7

A design itself isn’t enjoyable. It’s how the weather and actions come collectively throughout the design that makes it enjoyable. If you consider enjoyable when it comes to actions that might improve your customers’ main targets, you’ll have a neater time designing the flows and processes to suit your definition.

First, provide you with a set of actions that indicate enjoyable. You’ll need to tailor these to your customers and web site targets, however listed here are some good ones to begin with:

Then, determine methods to include these actions as a part of the primary person duties.


Let’s have a look at two examples from the journey business: Wanderfly and Orbitz.  Wanderfly does a pleasant job together with parts of “play” in its trip-finder design. As an alternative of normal click-and-select drop-down menus and textual content entry fields, it invitations customers to play through selectable buttons and draggable sliders. This makes the travel-planning course of simpler and extra satisfying.

Wanderfly's Trip Finder Interface

Fig 1: Wanderfly’s journey finder invitations customers to play.

Offering alternatives to play will increase Wanderfly’s “enjoyable” quotient.  What’s essential to notice right here, nevertheless, is that Wanderfly makes use of play to facilitate, versus detract from, the primary person targets. That’s fairly exhausting to do. You’ll want to guage, throughout usability testing, whether or not your design makes use of the idea of “play” to make duties simpler and doesn’t take customers’ focus away from what they’re attempting to do. Folks will come to your web site for a cause; they aren’t trying to simply fiddle with cool interactions.

Orbitz’s journey finder, whereas useful, isn’t precisely “enjoyable.” Customers can simply make journey preparations, which is the primary web site purpose, however the web site doesn’t exit of its approach to make the expertise pleasurable.

Orbitz Interface Design

Fig 2: In distinction, Orbitz doesn’t exit of its approach to be playful.

If you happen to’ve recognized “enjoyable” as a web site purpose, see which duties (if any) would lend themselves to parts of play.


Discovering and uncovering sudden performance as a part of a purpose could make the general expertise extra satisfying for customers. Let’s check out some examples from the world of finance.

Reuters invitations exploration with its beautiful world markets infographic:

Reuters World Market Data Inforgraphic

Fig 3: Reuters’ world markets information infographic invitations exploration.

Reuters makes use of a map of the world to ask exploration. By putting information geographically on the map, the location lets customers obtain their purpose—seeing market stats—in a enjoyable and interesting manner. The pink and inexperienced circles present customers whether or not the markets are up or down, and by how a lot. Rolling over the market identify reveals share info.  Reuters makes use of exploration and discovery to assist customers get the knowledge they want in a straightforward and pleasurable manner.

Let’s have a look at related information from Bloomberg:

Bloomberg's World Markets Data

Fig 4: Bloomberg’s world markets information, much less exploratory in design.

Nothing’s flawed with Bloomberg’s design, but it surely’s not particularly satisfying to make use of. I’d argue that the absence of “discovery” right here removes a layer of knowledge obtainable on the Reuters’ map. Customers can’t as simply visualize the market space they’re in search of.

“Enjoyable” might not appear to be an essential purpose for a finance web site, however incorporating parts of play and exploration could make it simpler for folks to search out and perceive information.


Permitting customers to create one thing—be it a product, a service, or the location itself—introduces enjoyable into the design. This works particularly effectively on commerce websites, the place customers wish to purchase a sure product.

Let’s have a look at websites promoting engagement rings. Blue Nile’s interface lets potential brides and grooms create their very own designs. 

Blue Nile Build Your Own Ring Interface

Fig 5: Blue Nile’s “Construct Your Personal Ring” interface lets customers construct and create.

By permitting customers to construct and create a product, the location provides a component of enjoyable to what can in any other case be an amazing procuring expertise. Enjoyable on this occasion not solely helps folks accomplish their targets, it additionally retains them engaged by “revealing” costs as they transfer by way of the creation course of.

Distinction that with Kay Jewelers’ engagement-ring commerce design:

Kay Jewelers Engagement Ring Interface Design

Fig 6: Kay Jewelers’ engagement ring show forces customers to select from current designs.

Kay reveals customers web page after web page of row after row of engagement-ring settings. Aside from filtering outcomes by worth and steel, customers can’t actually do something to make the method extra private, inviting, or enjoyable. Even when Kay simply added extra sturdy kind or filter performance, like Tiffany’s does beneath, it will give a way of creation and exploration.

Tiffany's Engagement Ring Finder

Fig 7: Tiffany’s engagement ring finder gives further “creation” choices.

Inviting folks to make use of your web site to create will increase the enjoyable issue and may make it simpler for them to finish their most important targets.

When designing, see how these actions can praise the location’s key duties and targets. If you happen to discover incorporating these actions into the interplay design makes it more durable for customers to perform duties, you’ll need to both choose totally different actions or re-evaluate the way you’ve ranked enjoyable in significance to the location’s success.

Take a look at It#section11

So, you’ve outlined, ranked, evaluated, and tasked, and also you’ve provide you with an excellent design you and your purchasers agree is enjoyable. How are you aware should you’ve succeeded with out falling into the “I’ll realize it after I see it” entice?

You may consider “enjoyable” together with usability throughout normal task-based testing. However it takes shrewd listening, observing, and questioning abilities to do that with out main members.

Since “enjoyable” shouldn’t be a habits, it’s tough to look at and interpret. You’ll must lean closely on the talk-aloud protocol. Take heed to the adjectives members are utilizing as they’re finishing the duties you’ve given them, and watch their facial expressions. 

Context is admittedly essential right here. You don’t need your web site to be a lot enjoyable that customers don’t accomplish their (and your) meant targets. You additionally don’t need the enjoyable points to get within the customers’ manner. Ask customers to finish totally different, but related, duties a number of instances, the place they’ve to make use of the identical mechanisms and see related design parts. If they appear aggravated or pissed off, chances are high the “enjoyable” is holding them again from doing stuff shortly. In the event that they benefit from the course of and may full duties shortly, the design might be working for them.

After you’ve completed the task-completion actions, ask follow-up questions concerning the web site as a complete. Hear for “constructive” adjectives like enjoyable (clearly), fascinating, cool, sudden, straightforward, partaking, and easy, and for “unfavourable” or “impartial” ones like boring, fantastic, as anticipated, regular, tough, and annoying.  The adjectives received’t inform the entire story, after all, however they will provide you with perception into how customers view the general design.

It’s additionally a good suggestion to publish a self-selecting survey when the location launches, after which once more 3–6 months later. Embrace a query about how usually respondents use the location on a every day, weekly, or month-to-month foundation, relying on web site targets. This will provide you with preliminary suggestions on how customers reply to the enjoyable points of the location and whether or not or not they’re nonetheless enjoyable after a number of months of use.

“Enjoyable” is all the time going to have an emotional element. Irrespective of how carefully you observe the above course of, somebody goes to disagree—together with your definition, rating, duties, or design choices. Nevertheless, by pondering critically about what it means for a web site to be “enjoyable,” and by taking the time to outline, consider, activity and check, you’ll be capable to transfer away from “I’ll realize it after I see it” to “I’m assured you’ll design one thing I believe is enjoyable.”

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