So I screwed up Mopis— in short, many users tried and abandoned the synth without ever noticing its most interesting features. My next synth, Pondular, went much better. I built Pondular for the 2006 KVR Audio Developer Challenge, so I knew users would get a pile of 30+ plug-ins at the same time. I also knew that my raw DSP skills paled in comparison to, let’s say, Urs, so I aimed to build something that every user would remember, whether positively or negatively.
Picture the first interaction. The user opens up the GUI and sees an unfamiliar colored grid. After pressing a couple notes, the user will quickly make the connection that notes make the pond ripple. The significance of the rippling may not be immediately obvious, but the user will instantly discover the most interesting aspect of Pondular: its ripply nature.
In addition, there are only four visible controls. Curious users will quickly discover how they affect the pond through experimentation and then try to figure out the relationship between the pond and the sound. Of course many users just won’t care, but this time they knew exactly what they were not caring about.
Although Pondular had a good first interaction, it’s not even the best first interaction from the contest. That distinction belongs to Bram Bos‘ Lunchbox Battles.
You start up Lunchbox and you’re instantly presented with nine giant buttons with letters on them. Hit one of the featured letters and you get drum sounds. Dead simple and wildly entertaining. Any user can figure out the point of Lunchbox in about 10 seconds.