Value in the details

I'm currently teaching a course on Technology in the Not-for-Profit Sector with Western Continuing Studies and last week, while talking about email marketing, I showed my class Mailchimp.  

I'm a huge fan of Mailchimp, but I try to avoid in-class, on-screen demos as much as possible because it's ridiculously boring to watch someone use a computer and generally doesn't add much value. Because I wanted students to create a (free) Mailchimp account and try sending an email campaign, the need to show them the basics outweighed the snooze factor.

What struck me was how engaged they were with the on-screen demo. Aside from being intrigued by the possibilities that a platform like Mailchimp creates (list management, geographic targeting, inbox testing etc.), there were lots of chuckles and smiles as they watched me work through the process.  It's the little details that the Mailchimp team have refined that really made the difference.

Things like the subtle guides that greet a new user, or the great (and often funny) microcopy that is scattered throughout their interface have a unbelievable influence on new users' and their willingness to learn and adopt a new platform and UI.

This experience was a reminder to me that taking time, money and resources to improve the small, seemingly insignificant details in the things that we create go a long way towards making them more valuable and impactful. What looks simple and easy is really the product of an extraordinary amount of testing, measuring, iteration and just plain hard work.

Email marketing is not particularly exciting (unless you're a marketing nerd), but Mailchimp's attention to small details and users' experience has created a product and service that is extraordinarily effective and enjoyable to use – or even watch  someone use.

 P.S. If you're a student in NFPM6005, and you were snoozing during the Mailchimp demo, just don't tell me.