Humor is important, but not all important in designing websites for UX. What is more important is to make it easy for the user to be happy.
If you thought UX designing is all about making a product usable, then you are well and truly living in the past. In today’s context, UX designing is more about giving people a delightful feeling, which culminates in a meaningful experience. Designing has evolved into a craft which, in the first place, should aim to make the user smile and feel good. The more fun you introduce, the more immersive your UX design gets. If you have a look at those games apps around you, you’ll find all of them having these characteristics. Imbibing them can enable you deliver the right UX with your designs.
UX Humor, done well.
In fact, this is what Apple has been doing to all its interfaces and that’s why the user experience they deliver is just more fun than their competitors. When Apple decided to step into the backup software domain (Time Machine), it used 3D and a crazy time portal background to make backup a delectable experience. The objective was to make the mundane task of backup fun to use. Thus Apple scored over older market players almost effortlessly.
Similarly, email marketing experts MailChimp never misses to add a fun element to its daily emails like calling an email send a “moment of glory,” or making the top navigation sound interesting (“Hi, Megan. New shirt? Very nice.”). Users’ find such daily dosage funny and look forward to more of such captioning when they have something to do with MailChimp. Hipmunk, Foot Cardigan and Cards Against Humanity, are some other enterprises who use humor in almost every situations.
But the moot question is can you use humor to regale even in situations where they can be awfully out of place. Situations like sending an error message, canceling a subscription or asking for help are not meant for cracking jokes. Just as treating a serious situation lightly can send the wrong impression, treating a light situation with too much seriousness can backfire. Added to this is the fact that a certain section of your users may not enjoy jokes at all and would just be interested in getting their job done.
What Should You Do
As user-experience is all about feelings, adding humor can trigger the right feelings to connect you to your users. However, don’t go for humor just for the heck of it. Take to it only if it adds to your design and puts the user at ease. Step back and see if all your users can relate to the humor. If you feel they cannot, then scrap it without sparing a thought. And for those sullen few who look down upon humor, you can add a feature to turn off the daily jokes. That’s what Mail Chimp’s did by adding a “Party Pooper Mode”.
Humor is important, but not all important. What is more important, however, is to make it easy for the user to be happy. If you are developing a product management web application, make it easy to finish great projects. If you are developing a chat application, make it easy to interact. If you are developing a website make it easy to find the information. Keeping it easy, invariably makes a user feel good and translates to contentment and happiness. Once this is taken care of, great UX will come by itself.
Subash is a senior technical writer/editor at GetsmartCoders, a part of Bangalore-based technology services outsourcing company Flatworld Solutions. Having committed himself solely to learning the trends of evolving technology, he views technological advancement from a rare perspective and analyzes them with consuming interest. His views have been published in well-known Tech magazines. Today, he lives in Bangalore, with his wife and two young adult children.