For tech buzzwords, ‘delight’ is out, ‘frictionless’ is in

Life is much easier when everything is on-demand.
Life is much easier when everything is on-demand.

A New York Magazine article today looks at the heavy overuse of the word “delight” in the tech world. Yes, everything of late seems meant to “delight” consumers due to the breezy simplicity involved.

The big players (Google, Apple, Yahoo) are in on it in a big way, but so is everyone else. “Delight” is how Actifio chief executive Ash Ashutosh described his company’s data storage service to me in March, and how other Boston-area tech firms, such as HubSpot and Drizly, have marketed their own products recently, for instance.

Buzzwords inevitably stray from their original meaning, and even techies who traffic in delight will admit that the word has gotten diluted,” Kevin Roose writes in the New York Magazine article. He later adds: “The problem with delight is that it’s often applied to small, trifling details: the way an icon moves within an app, say, or the way a menu is triggered on a website.”

But “delight” may be waning. From the article:

Many of the designers and entrepreneurs I spoke to told me that there’s a new design principle taking over. That principle? “Frictionlessness,” or the idea that good design is best when it’s hidden. (Think of the way you get out of an Uber car without having to pay, or having your phone’s calendar app adjust your appointments automatically when you switch time zones.)

Roose adds that “the popularity of ‘frictionless’ design may stem from a feeling that too much delight can be distracting.”

But why choose just one? Postmates chief executive Bastian Lehmann, for instance, recently deployed both “delightful” and “frictionless” when describing his delivery service app to me.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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