Living Your Best Digital Hygge Life
Each year, leading up to the Oxford Dictionary’s selection of their "word of the year," is a shortlist of words up for the honor. These words are generally a tally of pop culture idioms, memes, movie catch-phases and the like. Think words we’ve all come to know in the last few years like Brexit, gaslighting or youthquake. One particular word that was shortlisted back in 2016 caught my eye because it’s one that I am quite familiar with: hygge.
Pronounced "hoo-guh," this is a term near and dear to my native Denmark. Hygge is "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." The English word equivalent would likely be cozy, although hygge is an English derivative. Still, I’m not sure either of those nails it though.
For me, hygge was more like the feeling I would get as a child when my mother would light a candle every morning when we would have breakfast and talk about what lies ahead that day. It brought a sense of calm and purpose over me, and the consistency of the act made the moment even that much more impactful.
As a Dane, I feel hygge is literally in my DNA, and a defining feature of my cultural identity. When I came to the U.S. hygge came with me and is a part of my everyday home life and work. As a fellow Dane aptly said, "hygge is to the Danish what freedom is to Americans."
Creating that same feeling of hygge in the office is a greater challenge though. This is the agency industry after all, and I’m not naive enough not to know success isn’t always based on merit. Competition among agencies is often fierce and people sometimes do un-hygge things to get ahead.
Undeterred, the agency I founded would bring what I call "digital hygge" not only to our office, but to the clients we work with, and the work we create. You see, digital hygge is a mindset that is embedded in all of our business relationships. You can see it with our employees, the work we create, the services we provide and the trust we earned. It’s about more than wanting to do great work, it’s about loving the work we do, being genuine, and remaining curious and innovating.
It’s basically a form of affective design that considers the emotions and mindset of the user into the experience. Think of it as a UX/CX that leaves you feeling warm, inspired, and fulfilled. Yup, it can be done, and we’re pretty good at it. When you understand customer psychology, you can create experiences that amplify the right emotions and feelings.
For UX/CX to truly be effective, designers need to incorporate empathy into the experience so they can better understand what the end users' needs are, why they're there, and how to actually help them. A user experience involving a help desk chatbot, for example, that leaves the user feeling more stressed than when they first sought help is an epic fail. One that was likely created by a UX designer who wasn't really thinking about the customer’s experience, and definitely not feeling cozy I’m sure.
Ultimately, digital hygge is about infusing emotion into your work so your clients’ are left with a warm, inspired, and fulfilled feeling. Deliver that consistently for your clients and they too will get used to that feeling of hygge, just as I did many years ago with breakfast by candlelight with my mom.