A graph charting the theoretical relationship between value and delight

Are Value and Delight Mutually Exclusive?

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Is it possible for a product to offer both value and delight on a continued basis?


Here’s just one variation of a pyramid showing the hierarchy of needs for an MVP.




On first thought, I found it quite disgraceful that many of the other variations didn’t even include “valuable” as a requirement.  But I then I thought again – maybe value isn’t a requirement of MVP…


I tried to think of products I use in terms of quality, value and delight, and noticed some possible patterns.



High Value, Low Delight



Value: 4/5 – Source of news, contact with friends, sharing photos and events, entertainment.

Quality: 3/5 – Not awful but definitely falling, particularly after the replacement of dedicated testers with the dog-fooding method.

Delight: 2/5 – I use it, but I don’t enjoy it.  Used out of habit and convenience.


Virgin Media (TV and broadband)

Value: 5/5 – Life without an internet connection these days is pretty boring and limited.

Quality: 1/5 – I’m including UX as a measure of quality which, with this company, has been terrible for me.

Delight: 0/5 – The poor UX far outweights any value offered.



Value: 4/5 – I’m a “headphones on” tester and listen to music in the car, kitchen and shower, so I use this a lot.

Quality: 4/5 – Generally good but there are noticable bugs.

Delight: 2/5 – Does what I need it to, but I still don’t actively enjoy using it.



Low Value, High Delight


Tabby Cat (Chrome extension)

Value: 1/5 – This really doesn’t do much – it just shows me cat cartoons with silly names and fun accessories whenever I open a new tab in Chrome.

Quality: 5/5 – I’ve not been using it for long, but no issues yet.

Delight: 5/5 – I love it!  Seeing cute and silly cat stuff makes me happy – the delight it gives me is the biggest / only value.


Pokémon Go

Value: 1/5 – It’s a game.  Not educational or requiring problem solving, but it might get you out of the house.

Quality: 2/5 – I don’t play anymore but it had lots of issues when I did.

Delight: 4/5 – Despite the bugs, it was still fun to catch new or rare Pokémon.  I only stopped because there isn’t much where I live or work (gameplay is location dependent).



What Does This Mean?


From my own experiences of these five products, I kind of get the feeling that products that provide value really aren’t fun to use, and the ones we do enjoy using offer us no real value.  Does that mean value and delight are mutually exclusive?


I used to think all products needed to have some value to users, but now I’m not so sure, as I can’t think of anything I use that offers me both value and delight on a continued basis.  There might be some flourish of, “ooh, that’s quite cool,” when using a “useful” product, but overall, is avoiding annoyance the most one can hope for when building a product that’s supposed to be useful?


I’ve used such products in the past that seemed like a good time at first, but the delight quickly faded.


One example is the Rock Clock – an alarm app from the one and only Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  At first I loved it and it and it totally transformed my morning routine.  But the delight wore off when the bugs and feature limitations really started to show, and they over-shadowed any initial excitement.


I’ve also used FancyKey – a custom keyboard app for Android that I used to make my own Super Mario Bros themed keyboard (I really like Mario!).  Again, I was really happy with it at first, but it’s frustratingly buggy and the only thing stopping me from uninstalling it is laziness.


So what’s the problem?  Why aren’t products that provide value fun to use?


Possible Explanations


  • High value means tolerance for low quality is reduced, as the value is diminished by bugs, so satisfaction goes down too
  • Valuable products are boring by their very nature
  • Bugs in low value products don’t matter as much because they don’t deprive us of any value
  • It’s not the high value product we don’t enjoy, it’s the things they help us to do
  • The routine use of high value apps makes them seem more mundane / boring



Other Points to Consider


  • Does delight qualify as value in itself?
  • What does low quality impact the most – value or delight?
  • Where do factors like branding and reputation come in to the discussion / evaluation of a product?
  • Is it possible to build both value and lasting delight in to a product?  If so, how?
  • Is delight more important than value for success?
  • Does asking users to pay for your product (or not) affect how important quality, value and delight each are?
  • Can we test for delight?



I’d love to know your thoughts, and if there are any products you use that are both useful and continually delightful.  Please let me know in a comment or tweet.

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