image by Tony M...., flickr artist

i was just at the grocery store picking up supplies for the week.

when i got home, i took out the bottle of vitamin water i had purchased as part of those supplies and cracked the top. the flavor was called “spark” and was one that i hadn’t tried before, so — being new to me — i held up the bottle to read the label.

to my amusement, the text was upside-down. i turned the bottle to read it and, the label — the text i was reading — talked about the action which i had just performed (turning the bottle upside-down). it closed with a clever joke, and it was at that point that i realized what just happened.

i was having fun!

fun from a plastic vitamin water bottle? yes. (well, more specifically it was the label itself.) so i started to ask myself a very simple question: why, when we create products, do we always leave out the fun factor? when did we all become mr. soggy pants?

it’s not like we forgot how to have fun, but it’s just not part of our development process when we’re creating new products. really, what do you think of? what questions are you trying to answer?

  • how many clicks is it going to take for the user to get to [insert feature or function]?
  • how do we increase performance to make this run faster?
  • how can we combine similar tasks into one process?
  • how do we hydrate athletes better?
  • what fabrics are going to be lightest and provide the least wind resistance?
  • how can we structure our footwear to provide the most high ankle support?
  • how are we going to package everything together so that our clients/users/consumers are going to have fun?

yeah, that last one doesn’t come up during brainstorming sessions often, does it? why not?

we want all those things, yes. i want a web system that’s going to be easy to use, fast to work in, and provide me with results that i expect. i want a sports drink that’s going to hydrate me during hot summer days in southern virginia. but i also want to have fun. i want to know there were actual people behind the science and development, not some end product that does what it says it will that was produced bya robotic, corporate, dull, senseless process.

the next time you’re going to chemistry up the new generation of sports drinks, or are looking for new features to add to your web service, don’t forget to add the fun. if people can get the same or comparable end results from two products, but the one is corporate and dull whilst the other is fresh and fun — people will almost always opt for fun.