This past Black Friday, consumers mobbed the mall in search of bottom-line deals and exclusive bonuses with their purchase that made the early hours and long lines worth the hassle. But additional goods with a purchase is not just something reserved for crazed holiday shoppers; this method is referred to as a lagniappe and has been an aspect of sales for years. Whether it’s buying a dozen bagels and getting a thirteenth for free, or throwing in free samples with an order, the lagniappe has been used by retailers to entice and retain customers successfully in nearly every market and, recently, has made its way into the online realm.
As Michelle Kowalski, UI/UX Designer at Briteskies, learned at the WebVisions Conference in Chicago, a lagniappe has transformed from a bonus with purchase to simply an added aspect of any online interaction. This concept was discussed in a presentation by Debra Gelman called “Just Make it Fun: What Designing for Kids Can Teach Us About User Experience.”
Gelman, a researcher, designer and strategist in interactive children’s media, specifically discussed the differences between designing for adults and designing for kids. For adults, the emphasis in design is getting from Point A to Point B, whereas design for kids should focus on the journey. She concentrated on the different reactions between kids and adults in aspects of conflict, response, investment, action, and flow. Lagniappes are prevalent within kids design as it keeps them involved by adding a level of interactivity. This is often translated into adult design as unexpected, well considered content. Examples can be found on websites like LittleBigDetails.com, where they gather online lagniappes such as those found at MailChimp, where the familiar experience of picking a username that is already in use is met not just with the standard “this username already exists,” but also a clever “maybe it’s your evil twin.” These details are not necessarily required for the success of a website, but they do make the experience more enjoyable.
By bringing that level of interactivity to adult designs, the user experience gains depth and user interest. Lagniappes are included to surprise the user and, much like the free samples given out during a big sale or as an incentive to order online, keep the target audience coming back. Through smart copywriting, clever design, or refreshingly intuitive interactions, the web is full of fun bonuses. Keep your eyes peeled and report back with your favorite finds.