It is the little things in life that count, according to the old adage, and this is certainly true as far as user experience is concerned. The devil really is in the detail. 

All too often some minor oversight on a website makes me furrow my brow, but more and more websites are taking a microscopic approach to user experience and interface design, and the results can be useful, amusing, fun, and functional. 

I thought I’d share some of my favourites, as well as a bunch from Little Big Details, a fantastic website that collects these examples of smart user-focused design. It has hundreds to browse through, so if you’re interested in UX design then do check it out.

The White Stuff’s moody checkout icon

Note the sad face on the little shopping cart icon when you first visit The White Stuff’s website.

Add an item into your basket and hey presto, that frown is turned upside down.

Last.fm’s colour flip

In the header last.fm offers you the chance to ‘Paint It Black’.

Click it to go monochrome.

Expedia’s use of social proof and persuasion

Expedia creates perceived demand by telling you how many people are looking (and have looked) at the hotel you’re interested in.

iPlayer cranks up the volume

BBC iPlayer embraces the spirit of Spinal Tap. See also the IMDB rating scale for that marvellous movie

Buffer lets you rewrite headlines

Buffer will use selected / highlighted text on a page to be the caption in your tweet. For those times when a quote is better than the headline.

Dribbble’s browse by colour functionality

Dribbble.com displays a colour palette alongside an image. The colours of the image are represented, allowing you to drill down and browse other images with similar hues.

Boxee’s logo takes a nap

The usual green logo turns orange and falls asleep when the device isn’t connected to the internet.

Make Me A Cocktail takes a guess

Click ‘search’ without typing anything into the search box and it will suggest a random cocktail.

Bit.ly becomes your biggest fan

Drag the bookmark and the Bit.ly b̶i̶r̶d̶ puffer fish will cheer you on.

StreetView hangs ten

The StreetView icon in Google Maps is provided with a surfboard when you look at a map of Hawaii.

Skype’s font-inspired sulk

Skype hates Comic Sans, like the rest of us. Notice the sad face…

Meetup widens the net

Meetup automatically expands your search criteria in the event that no results are found. 

Vimeo understands human nature

Vimeo knows that humans are often resistant to change.

The Amsterdam Museum knows what day it is

The Amsterdam Museum shows you the opening hours in its header for today.

…so does 37 Signals 

If you visit 37 Signals today it will wish you a ‘Happy Monday’.

Ebay uses data to inform its UI

Ebay remembers your order history and will change the button from ‘Buy Now’ to ‘Buy Another’.

I love the emotion, the persuasion, the knowing wink, and the way that small details as shown in the above examples can make you feel engaged and happy when using websites. 

What other examples are there that you have seen? Please leave a comment below if you spot anything!