Years ago, when Flickr, the photo-sharing website, first appeared on the scene, the designers delighted their users with a variety of interesting innovations. One of those innovations was something that now seems strikingly simple in concept: a customized home page.
At that time, practically every other website had a standard home page. When a user typed in the site’s main URL, they saw an identical page to every other user.
Flickr’s page was different. When registered users typed Flickr.com into their browser’s address bar, they saw a personalized page complete with their own latest uploads and recent pictures from their friends and contacts. We interviewed users who told us they found the personalized page very exciting, including the happy “Hello” that appeared in a different language each time they visited.
It wasn’t very long before other sites started incorporating similar capabilities. We saw many sites with a personalized dashboard showing recent activity. We even saw other sites copy the multilingual greeting prompt.
The interesting thing is, as these innovative features propagated into other sites’ designs, they became less remarkable and less delightful to those sites’ users. These users rarely mentioned the features and never seemed as excited about it as those initial Flickr users did.
The Kano Model — A tool for sophisticated designers
Years ago, we came across the work of Noriaka Kano, a Japanese expert in customer satisfaction and quality management. In studying his writing, we learned about a model he created in the 1980s, known as the Kano Model.
This model predicted users’ reactions as the key elements of Flickr’s personalized home page appeared on other websites. It predicted why users were initially delighted and why the delight faded over time.
We find the Kano Model to be an indispensable tool for designers. Let’s take the model apart, so we can understand why it’s so useful.