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The Value Of A Penny

value of a penny Stephanie Swanbeck linkedin

Not long ago, I completed the User Experience Design Immersive program at a school known as General Assembly. And although graduation was months ago, I can still vividly picture the first day of school. We dove right into the topics at hand and were working on activities all throughout the day. At the end of the day, we all clamored to our desks for the end-of-class wrap up, and as we got situated the instructor asked a simple question. “What is the purpose of user experience?” My classmates and I stared at each other blankly. “To delight the user,” continued the instructor. The instructor then told us to pair up and get to know our classmate. We were then to come up with a gift for our classmate that was either free or cost little money, and to delight our classmate in a simple way.

As I chatted with the classmate I was paired with, I learned that he, his wife, and their toddler had just recently moved to the United States from Spain. He was struggling to learn English, and he didn’t know the customs and traditions of America. There was so much I could help him with, but I couldn’t think of how to make it a free gift. The rest of the night I wracked my brain, but no ideas were coming to me. Frustrated, I went to bed defeated.

The next morning I woke up knowing that I was going to school without a gift for my classmate. Being the overachiever that I am, I was very frustrated that I had already failed the first assignment. Distracted, I went through the motions of getting ready for the day, and then I began my walk to school. But on the walk to school, something happened. I was walking down the street when I noticed something glistening on the sidewalk. As I looked more closely, I saw Abraham Lincoln’s face staring up at me. Excited, I picked up the penny and put it in my pocket. This would make the perfect gift for my classmate.

When I got to school, we immediately exchanged gifts with our classmates. I was so eager to give him his gift! I reached into the depths of my pocket and retrieved the penny. Understandably, he looked confused about why I was giving him money. “In America,” I explained, “We have a silly rhyme that says ‘find a penny, pick it up, and all day you’ll have good luck.’ I saw this penny on the way to school this morning and wanted to give it to you so that you could have good luck today.” I waited anxiously to see if my classmate would understand the silly superstition and the tradition behind I what I just explained. Looking the penny, the edges of his mouth curled into a smile. He looked up at me and said, “Thank you.” I smiled back. I had done it! I had delighted the customer.

The moral of this story is that user experience does not need to be complicated. Think of an app that swipes screens easily, or makes a fun sound when you press a button. These little details may seem trivial, but they may actually have a huge impact on the user. Never underestimate the value of these features...or the value of a penny!

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You delighted the customer!

The value of a penny is in the shared interaction. 

Exactly! :)

By the way, how much does it cost to make a penny?

As of 2014 it costs 1.7 cents to make a penny:

How many pennies are in circulation in the United States?

The U.S. mint creates 13 billion pennies per year.

So there are between 200 billion and 250 billion pennies in circulation. 


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