User delight and Hotmail calendar weather info

When I worked at Microsoft Research, I gave a talk on search experience satisfaction at HCIR 2008 (see paper at, and someone in the audience wanted me to define user satisfaction. I suggested that users display satisfaction with a system (program/app/web site) because the system is so useful or so delightful, so much so that they use it because they want to , rather than because they have to.  Also, when users start showing off apps or websites, you see satisfaction — for example, I like UrbanSpoon and Shazam so much that I have excitedly demo’ed these apps to several people!

And it doesn’t have to be the whole app — sometimes small features can delight people and cause satisfaction.

All this came up because of the nifty thing I saw in my Hotmail calendar today. I have no idea how long this feature’s been in Hotmail. I don’t normally use the Hotmail calendar but today I did, and saw something that delighted me. Something simple, yet very useful, as you can see in this screenshot of just three days in my calendar:
Hotmail calendar view of 2 dates with weather and birthday infoYep, it’s the weather info, blended into my calendar. You see the icons for the weather for the next 5 days and you can click on the info to get more details. Isn’t that neat? And I like the birthday cake too — reminds me it’s someone’s birthday and I can click to find more. I absolutely love these features — gives me a heads-up, helps in planning, and make me one happy Hotmail user !

Are there things like this which have delighted you? Do share !

While on the subject, trying too hard to satisfy can sometimes backfire. I was looking for a pointer to my HCIR paper, and I tried the query “chandrasekar search satisfaction”  on Google. Google helpfully tried not just my name as I spell it, but also Chandrasekaran (extra ‘an’ appended) and Chandrasekhar (with an extra H) — so the result I was looking for came in on the 3rd page of results, at position 21. Out of curiosity, I tried the same query on Bing. Bing gave me a citation at position 1, and a pointer to the pdf at position 4, on the first page — and I was a happy camper.


About Chandra

Interested in people, language, ideas, technology and their interactions.
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