[Side Note: I am trying to tell more stories, rather than dole out advice. Stories have a specific meaning and context. These stories are not easily generalizable if one wants to maintain the integrity of the story or make an accurate generalization. Yet in the past, I felt some undue pressure to make a story bigger than what it was and treat it as an overblown epiphany. So instead of extrapolating this one experience, I’ll just tell you the story now…and let you do with it what you will.]
[Side Note 2: Two side notes and no post yet. Terrible. Well, it feels good to be back on the blog again. Been too long.]
I was just filling out a form. I made a typo (as if I often do). I hit CMD+A (Select All) and retyped my email address. I did not find the one spot where my email was mistyped, move my cursor there, click, and add a single character to correct the typo. Instead, I preferred to retype the entire thing.
In theory, the greater cost is retyping the entire email address. In theory, it’s much easier to add one character vs. several.
However, of course, this ignores the cognitive cost, and one type of physical cost — while only accounting for the most obvious physical cost - typing characters. The cognitive cost is of course figuring out what the error is and what exactly needs to change — this is meaningfully different than the binary decision of whether something is right or wrong. It’s more nuanced, and thus requires more work. Additionally, there is the subtle physical cost of moving the cursor - either via mouse or keyboard - to the exact position of this error vs. CMD+A and then DELETE.
This type of nuance reminds me of Apple’s decision to position application menus at the top of one’s computer screen — not the top of the application window (which could be halfway down the page). In doing so, Apple eliminated the precision required to get the mouse exactly on top of the menu item you wanted — you need to be horizontally correct, but otherwise you can just swing your mouse up there and it’ll stop where you need it to (at the top). With a menu that’s positioned with the application window, you can’t swing up vertically because you’ll go too far — and thus you have to get 2 things precisely write: horizontal and vertical position — instead of one thing precise (horizontal) and another thing kinda sort in the neighborhood (vertical).
Anyway, I found my behavior notable here. It’s quite mundane really, but carries nuance that is emblematic of microbehaviors that matter to product design. And I’ll really resist the urge to try to generalize and tell you how this kinda sort (but not really) related to reengagement emails, signup flows, viral loops, etc.