How Skylight uses numbers to communicate emotions

My home page has been loading quickly! Sweet!

I’m a typical nerd in that I love trying new tools and figuring out how to add them to my workflow. Starting a software company by yourself provides infinite opportunity to do just that. “I want to fiddle around with this thing” is infinitely easier than “I need to get my team of six people on board and trained to use this thing.”

Also, as a grade-A procrastinator, setting stuff up is a great way to avoid real, hard work.

One of the biggest question marks I have is how my web app, Cardstock, will perform when teachers start banging away at it when the school year starts in August. Skylight is a pretty sweet way for me to simply monitor that performance, chiefly by measuring the response time for various requests to my app. In the screenshot above, “StaticPagesController#home” is the landing page visitors hit when they first come to my app.

What left me gobsmacked when I first started using the app — and what I think has me sold as a continued user — is this, relatively simple, dropdown:

Agony. Genius.

Being a web developer can encourage a very numbers-and-logic mindset. And there’s science here for sure. How much faster is one server request than another? And why?

But Skylight has used one simple word to a wayward web developers away from their number-crunching to think about how their code is making users feel. And of course, Agony is the exact right word for it. We’ve all been there. Waiting for a page to load on a slow connection pretty much feels like…

I HAVE TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW MANY PEOPLE LIKED THE PUPPY PHOTO I POSTED THIS MORNING

And since Skylight is dealing with math-and-numbers types, they of course offer a more-head-and-less-heart explanation once you click the drop-down:

“The gold standard.” There’s personality behind this app. Winner.

Again, really clean copy that communicates the math behind the scenes.

Skylight’s copy is a great example for me to follow. Right now I’m thinking about how to best present student rosters to teachers in Cardstock. Wanting to help teachers prioritize families who haven’t heard from anyone in awhile…

It’s definitely not “Sort by reverse chronological order of most recent outgoing message.”

I need to help communicate to my users how inattentiveness — whether intentional or not, real or percieved — makes parent feel.

Thanks Skylight, not just for providing a pretty sweet service, but for shaping the path of good design for your users!

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