User experience is how users perceive and react when using a product. A user goes through a sequence of moments to get a job done with the product. Once done, the user forms memory of the experience. According to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the memory is characterised by the experience’s peak and end. In a paper he co-authored in 1993 titled “When More Pain Is Preferred to Less: Adding a Better End”, he explained:

The peak-end rule is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e. its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.

The peak-end rule is a good mental scaffolding for product designers. It brings to fore two crucial aspects – peak and end – of an experiential flow. With the awareness, we can try to identify moment slices with (potentially) unpleasantness. Then, figure out ways to make the unpleasantness less intense, or better still, eliminate them altogether. It’s because unpleasantness can adversely taint our evaluation of an entire experience, thanks to our negativity bias — unpleasant experience is psychologically more impactful than the pleasant one.

In addition to the most intense moment, the end is equally important. An experience must end well and on a high note, in order for the creation of a memorable positive experience. I find it rather perplexing to see lackadaisical effort by some Malaysian e-wallets to evoke some kind of celebratory emotion when users get cash-backs. Instead, users are greeted with static and a rather visually stale FYI screens.

But Grab seems to grasp the importance of emotional aspects. While waiting for my food to arrive, the Grab app shows me some lightweight animations and status updates (see below). Not just as visual candy, the up-to-date status is important to alleviate anxieties and make the unpleasant waiting time less, well, unpleasant. These tiny stuff matter as they add up to form the user experience.

After all the waiting, GrabFood service ends it with a friendly smile by the delivery rider. That is, for sure, a better end.


Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash