"The outlines are too thick, I want them to be half-a-pixel thinner."

"I want to do something kinda fun with the ‘buy now’ button, where if the mouse tracks close to it you can hear people getting ready to cheer. And when you’ve hovered over it the people burst out into applause?"

On the surface, these can be easily dismissed as stupid.

But to listen beyond the stupid is to find the hidden opportunities that can only come from a deeper understanding of what the client actually wants.

Ok, so the smallest unit on a computer screen is a pixel; but a line can be made to look half a pixel thinner by making it gray instead of solid black. (Actually, Windows’ ClearType subpixel type anti-aliasing actually uses the component RGB subpixels of each on-screen pixel to make on-screen type appear smoother without blurriness, but this level of control is not available to web designers.)

Using sounds and extended programming to simulate a crowd getting ready to cheer etc may be an impractical overkill, but there is potential merit in the idea of fostering customer anticipation and providing strongly positive feedback to reward actions. In a way, this “stupid” client was hinting at gamification!

The client doesn’t have to be the subject domain expert. The consultant is supposed to fill that role. It is easy, and sometimes entertaining, to dismiss client comments as stupid. But is it really? Is listening beyond the “stupid” the way to exceed expectations?