Citrix CEO Mark Templeton likes to talk about having “mojo” in the product, and woven throughout the overall user experience. He likes to use lots of funny metaphors including “cold patient rooms” and “wedding altars” when describing bad interfaces ;-) But “mojo” is one that is of special importance as it gets at the essence of a great product, I think.

What is “mojo”? In my view, basically it has to do with charisma, tone of voice, and delightful qualities that distinguish your product with a coherent, unifying sense of being authentic and special.

The opposite is a product that is boring, dull, stale, flat and frankly mediocre. Just not worthy of our increasingly expensive attention span in a hectic day.

How do you create “mojo”? From a design perspective, there are multiple levers that can be manipulated: The visual palette and style. The animations / transitions / or cinematic flourishes. The layout and structure of elements on-screen with compositional balance and simplicity. The polish of behaviors and well-thought interactions / affordances / feedback that make someone say “wow. thank you. of course.” The user has to “get it” that this is a special product apart from the crowd of competitors and imitators. It has to speak to the user, seductively yet proactively, connecting to the opportunities beyond the user’s imagination.

Note that it’s not just sexy visuals. There has to be something unique to the character of the product, reinforcing the functionality, content, services, and overall lifecycle and ecosystem.

And it’s more than just design! There’s also the fundamental value prop and business strategy / marketing story that connect to a person’s willingness to embrace this product, fold it into their daily lives. The website, the advertising, the sales demos, customer contacts…all of that has to connect back to (and enhance) the “mojo” of the product. Else it just falls flat, something that looks gorgeous and sexy yet is an empty vessel, a decoy, a fake.