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The people behind the bytes

I think that any developer that creates customer-facing software dreams that their users rave about and show affection for the product. But being users of software ourselves we know it's not easy to like any application that much. There are usually so many other applications vying for our love, and they tend to be so bland and similar, it's easier to just treat them with equal disinterest.

SIDE NOTE: This reminds me of how much I miss Kathy Sierra's Creating Passionate Users blog.

Still, why some applications win your heart?

I would argue that this has all to do with the way such application let some of the hearts and souls that created the application leak through some inoffensive outlets.

The idea is that it is hard for users to attach themselves to something that has no sign of human behavior. Let me try to clarify this point with an example. Let's say Albert is your co-worker. He gets his job done but not always the same way every day. Sometimes he's not in the mood for water cooler chat, worried about the world financial crisis, sometimes he's thrilled that his team qualified for the playoffs, sometimes he's supportive when you are facing some personal problem. I mean, he's not a machine.

Take one of the biggest examples of them all: Google. Do you think the Google Doodles or the famous hidden treats are there just the works of mischievous coders? No. They are carefully placed messages that serve as a constant reminder that the folks at Google are real people and they like to connect with you, the user. What other email site would dare to have user message like "Hooray, no spam here!" ?

Why am I talking about this?

I've joined a new company a couple of months ago and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we make use of those little outlets to connect to our users on a personal level as well. For example we change the site logo on special occasions and send plush toys to customers when we release a new version (plush toys, as a "weapon" of Marketing, deserves its own post. I'll leave that for another day.)

You may think this just sounds silly, but you should see the emails we get from customers when they notice these little things. They are thrilled to find them. Sometimes it makes someone's day. It happened again last Friday (Haloween — a major occasion in the U.S.)

It's very rewarding and I'm very proud to work with people that think about their users that much.

Posted 11-03-2008 1:41 PM by sergiopereira
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Arjan`s World » LINKBLOG for November 4, 2008 wrote Arjan`s World » LINKBLOG for November 4, 2008
on 11-04-2008 4:40 PM

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