“If you need people to enjoy it right away, that might mean you’re not going to probe very deep”
– Edward Norton
Of course Mr. Norton was talking about art, not products, but his point raises questions for all makers. If you spend too much time trying to get immediate attention, you’re likely to ensure little long term effect. Think of movies or novels that are most memorable: was it the first five minutes that caused that effect? I doubt it. But if you spend too much energy thinking about the final payoff, few people will make it that far into your design.
In software one of the most neglected parts is the first experience people have. Sometimes called OOBE (out of box experience), installing and setting up most products in the world is an afterthought. IKEA furniture is a cascading failure of OOBE, as it gets worse and worse as you examine each and every one of the stupid little pieces, described in microscopic hieroglyphics the author himself didn’t understand.
Thinking like a writer, the burden is on each unit of experience to be worthy of interest. Each word should lead the reader’s mind to the next. Each sentence to the next sentence. And on it goes. The last page might be awesome, but what’s the point if no one gets that far?
In whatever you make, how do you balance designing for immediate rewards vs. long term rewards?