The Power of Delightful Features

I recently listened to an episode of Lenny’s Podcast where he interviewed Scott Belsky {Adobe product leader}. There was a bit of the conversation that resonated with me because I was conducting research on the Kano product model for a project at the time.

“And the other thing that perplexes me is that product leaders expect people to talk about a product being great. And people don’t talk about a product doing exactly what they expected it to do. They talk about a product doing what they didn’t expect. And you look at a product like Tesla. People are not going and talking about how they had a great drive today, but they’re talking about the cool new feature they discovered on the dashboard ….Why aren’t we optimising for those things that people wouldn’t expect the product to do as a way to get that surprise and delight to talk about it, to develop a relationship with our products?” {Scott Belsky}

Belsky’s observation aligns with the theory of the Kano product model which is generally used for feature prioritisation. This framework was developed by Dr Noriaki Kano, a professor of quality management from Tokyo University in the 1980s.  He came up with five different types of feature categorisation to help product teams prioritise which features they build. 

1. Must-have features

2. Performance features

3. Delight features

4. Indifferent features

5. Reverse features

Kano’s delight features exemplify the type of features described by Belsky in the quote mentioned earlier. These features pleasantly surprise users by exceeding their expectations, leading to a sense of delight. Delight features often generate word-of-mouth recommendations and positive user feedback.

Must-have features and Performance features are important and should rightly be prioritised but such features don’t excite users enough to spread the word about your product. Users expect them to be available in your product as a given for them to continue to use. 

It’s the unexpected features that delight and surprise them that will nudge them to evangelise your product. Surprise and delight are powerful emotional drivers for word-of-mouth recommendation. 

Product teams should avoid building surprising or delightful features for the sake of it. They need to build delightful features that solve user problems in functional and purposeful ways. 

Apple’s iPhone was the first mainstream smartphone to launch without a physical keyboard. The most popular phone at the time was the Blackberry which had half of its phone’s surface occupied by a keyboard. Apple wanted to maximise the entire phone screen for users and knew they had to get rid of the physical keyboard to do this. They introduced the touch screen feature to accomplish this goal.  Most smartphones today come with touchscreen functionalities. But in 2007 when Apple released the iPhone; this feature was a big talking point because nothing like it existed.

What unexpected delightful features/products have you encountered that compelled you to recommend them to others? Please share below in the comment section.

Join 106 other subscribers

Please share your comments on this post

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.