Jorge Manrubia

June 5, 2022

What do we want people to feel?

Since I started using HEY World last year, I have written 28 posts. Those are more than what I wrote in my six previous years of blogging.

Publishing an article in HEY World is as easy as sending an email, which I am sure is a life-changing feature for many people, but not for me. I am a programmer nerd, and publishing on my personal site is as easy as pushing new content to GitHub, which I can do with a keystroke. Actually, publishing to HEY World requires extra-ceremony in my case since I usually write my articles in markdown, not using the HEY composer. Despite that, I find publishing content in HEY World very appealing. Why is that?

When HEY World was being developed, I remember Jason insisting on how important it was that it felt like sending a regular email. This idea was instrumental when driving many design decisions while the product was being cooked. I must say I remained skeptical about the whole idea, but now I think there is precisely where the magic resides. The feeling that you are sending an email to other fellow humans makes the experience much better than publishing in a vacuum.

One of my favorite ads ever is this one by Apple. At some point, it says:

The first thing we ask is: what do we want people to feel?

I’ve reflected on how much I am not a designer in the past. I think this is the main struggle I have. Great designs start with a call on the intended feeling you want to induce, with one hundred decisions following that. When it comes to user experience, I’m bad at envisioning how many combined decisions will make someone feel. After the fact, I can analyze the impact of standalone decisions and rationalize the whole thing, but I am not good at seeing the whole picture when the slate is blank.

Take this with a grain of salt, as this is not my thing, but I’ve seen the value of this question empirically validated: when working on a feature or product, what do you want people to feel?

About Jorge Manrubia

A programmer who writes about software development and many other topics. I work at 37signals.