Chris Jones, Blueleaf's Creative Director points out the importance of making your users smile... Early in my career, I read a great book called A Smile in the Mind. The authors, tired of reading hyper-intellectual books about graphic design that had little relevance to the real world, decided to write about humour in design and how the two can work powerfully together to sell.
Written in the days before the web really took off, it's still a highly relevant read, even though it is mostly about print and advertising. The lessons learned from that book have stuck with me and are just as applicable to the web, now that I'm Creative Director at a digital agency.
So, what am I talking about exactly? It's perhaps best summed up by this old advertising quote:
"We don't sell to people, we just make them smile and they choose to buy from us".
When you think about websites (or mobile sites, apps, social etc) that you love, I bet they all have one thing in common – they make you smile or at least feel good when you're using them. For me, this is why Apple will always be superior. Everything they do is focused on people and the way we behave, the way we interact, what makes us smile. How many times do you think, "Oooh nice" when using an Apple product of service? A lot more than when using a Microsoft equivalent, I'd venture.
It's about humanisation. Technology is increasingly amazing, but I believe as it becomes more and more powerful, there's a danger that we fall into the trap of designing for technology's sake, forgetting that what we're actually trying to do is communicate with another human being and make them want to buy something, get in touch or interact in some way.
Imagine meeting someone for the first time who you think you'd like to get to know better. We're at our most personable, turn on the charm and more than anything try to make the other person laugh, or at least smile. It's exactly the same with websites. If you want to sell to someone, make them like you (and I don't just mean in the Facebook sense of the word). Think about Apple's obsession with tiny details and look at your own site for where you might be able to make people smile or give them an, "Oooh nice" moment.
For example, I was looking for some summer clothes the other day on White Stuff and noticed that the basket icon is a sad shopping trolley when he's empty. With one item added, his mood improves slightly. Keep adding items and he gets increasingly happier (and fatter), until with about 7 items added he's one fat, happy little fella. It's a lovely, simple touch that makes me like their brand more and who doesn't want that?