Is it meant for lingering or for passing through?

Some things are meant for lingering, while others are just a means to an end, a hurdle to pass through. Some examples:

  • A highway is for passing through
  • A park or civic square is for lingering
  • The McDonalds drive-through is (quite literally) for passing through
  • A table at a restaurant is for lingering (usually, but not always)
  • Facebook is for lingering
  • Google search is for passing through

Unsurprisingly, things that are meant for lingering get better if lingering is made easier. The infinite scrolling and all-in-one nature of Facebook, benches in the park, and dessert options at the restaurant.

And things meant for passing through get better as they take less time. Google works to give you ever faster search results. McDonalds lets you pre-order before you get to the payment window, before you get to the pickup window. A highway passes above or below other roads, eliminating intersections.

If you're building something, it's worth deciding whether it's for lingering or for passing through. You get to choose.