On delight, user experience and electronic candles

I’m sitting outside on a busy street in central Kuala Lumpur with a bunch of mates when a peddler walks up. I am very sceptical of street sellers in general, and as a matter of principle never buy knick-knacks. To me they are clutter. “Another street seller who’s out of luck”, I think to myself.

The peddler pulls out a small cardboard box and extracts a colourful cylinder from within. He then proceeds to blow a tiny bit of air into the cylinder. The thing flickers, then lights up. It’s an electronic candle! All the while my friends are telling me how cool these things are, having already bought some earlier that evening.

Here’s what an electronic candle looks like:


Video credit: LighTake

Needless to say, I ended up buying one.

Thinking back to that moment I can think of several contributing factors:

  • Surprise. I had never seen anything like it before.
  • Show. The live demonstration by the peddler explained what the thing was and how it worked – in seconds.
  • Delight. The design of the candle is very simple, however it captures two essential aspects of traditional candles: the flickering light and the gesture of blowing out a candle.
  • Test drive. The seller let me have a play before buying.
  • Recommendation. All my mates said it’s cool, so it must be.
  • Personal. I had the full attention of the seller all to myself.
  • Value. The candle cost about $3.50 so it was great value.

You too can incorporate these elements into the design of your service or product, either physical or digital.


Busy street in Kuala Lumpur
Busy street in Kuala Lumpur – photo credit: Duro V.

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