Feel Good Features

21 Jan

I was pleasantly surprised by a very thoughtful ‘feature’ when I recently took a trip to the hospital for an MRI scan (nothing dire, just running diagnostics on an old injury). If you haven’t been in an MR suite before, it’s typically a painless but slightly unnerving experience. The gowned patient is instructed to lay down in a bed that brings him into a small, clausterphobic bore of a giant magnet that is constantly playing the sounds of a jack hammer symphony. It’s so loud, in fact, that patients don large headphones to block out the noise. Add this on top of whatever medical issue they may be carrying around and it can be an all-around unpleasant experience. However, as I got settled into the bed and looked up towards the ceiling, I saw something like this:

It took me by surprise because I didn’t notice it when I walked in. And I thought to myself – what a clever and pleasant little touch to the entire user experience of this procedure.

Sometimes it’s useful to consider the benefits of these sorts of “feel good features.” They don’t have any immediate effect on the bottom line or utility of your product, but they can result in benefits like differentiating yourself amongst the competition and creating more user loyalty just because it feels nice. Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button falls into this category – it gets little use and actually pulls ad revenue away from them because users go directly to a specific website. In fact, ever since they released Google Instant, there’s no easy way to even click on it! Some people call it a waste, but you have to admit that it does generate buzz.


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