My coffee-smelling post last week has attracted some attention - many thanks to all those readers and bloggers who picked up on it.
Jeff Howard - who writes the Design for Sevice blog - was kind enough to refer to my tale, adding the following terrific analogy from (you guessed it) showbusiness.
A grace note is a short, separate note that occurs immediately before a longer run of notes. If a musician were to simply launch into an extended passage, the listener might be apt to miss the effect of the first few notes and struggle to catch up. The grace note engages attention and makes the sequence more impressive. I often use the visual equivalent of this principle in interface design to delineate animations; it works exactly the same way.
(Read the full post here.)
This is a nice refinement of my coffee-pot story, where the whiff of java was often just plumb necessary to get the attention of potential customers who were lost in their own thoughts or media. In Jeff's analogy, the concert audience is presumably already attentive - but the grace note helps focus their attention on the virtuoso passage to come. It's less of a "wake up!" and more of a "ok, here we go..."
One of the main functions of customer experience design has always been to draw customer's attention to hidden values - to show them exactly how much bang they get for their buck. Perhaps we need to be using more grace notes to draw our customers' attention to virtuoso service...
piano pic from evilibby at flickr