Technology Should Be Delightful

Chris Thurber · April 24, 2023

Technology in 2021 sucks. It really does just suck.

It’s incredible the innovation that has given us the ability to carry the entire internet in our pockets and the silicon wafers that have been crammed into metal and glass bars, but it isn’t delightful to use. Computers are amazing, the software being written for them is amazing, but is it delightful to use any of it? Not really. It kinda just sucks. A lot.

With the amount of money being pumped into tech and its subfields, you would think it would be a joy to pick up a smartphone or open your laptop or even hit the spacebar to wake up your desktop, but it is not. It’s a joyless experience, it feels stale and old and uneventful. Software isn’t fun to use.

I keep going back to this word “delightful”. It’s a joyous word, it’s poignant and surreal, it’s a word that elicits a feeling that’s indescribable, but humanity at large knows the feeling. Why isn’t technology delightful? It should be. We should be creating software and hardware that elicits the feeling of delight, not sucking the soul out of the user. Facebook/Twitter are almost painful to use, few say that they enjoy using social media. Of course not, it’s designed around user retention and the feeling of just saying “one more post” over and over. That’s not a good feeling, I believe every time a user signs off, they should be saying “that was a good use of my time” and to feel good about putting time into whatever you’re designing/building/prototyping/creating.

I believe that society has a moral obligation to do better in this regard, we deserve technology that brings joy and value to our lives. We use it everyday, why should we hate tech so much? It’s become a normal part of our lives. Of course it has, it’s amazing, but it’s not fun.

It’s like a great game, after you finish you feel good. Why isn’t the tech stack like that? In the modern age, if a piece of a game is frustrating to the vast audience, they can fix it. We can slowly start to fix tech. I think it’s important that we do that.

Product managers ask “How can we design this to bring value to each and every user” and “How can this bring value to the company”, but when going into a new piece of software, the first question we should ask is “How can we design this to bring delight to each and every user?” Value and delight are two distinct feelings. You can feel like your use of software brought value without feeling delighted by that use, but to feel delight you have to have felt value.

Twitter, Facebook