The internet is full of tedious things: waiting for a page to load, filling out forms, navigating every account settings page ever. Thankfully, it's also stocked with clever developers who make it their mission to put the curiosity and fun back into our daily routines. What we're talking about here folks are Easter eggs. Easter eggs are hidden gems, features, or moments of surprise buried within software and throughout the internet. They are designed to catch you off guard and make you smile -- if you can find them.
Why Hide an Easter Egg?
Easter eggs typically don't add much functionally to the software or site, so why take the time to code them in? You'll get a different answer from every person you ask, but most answers all boil down to the same motive: "for the fun of it." I asked a few staffers around HubSpot for their opinions. Here's what they had to say:
Mike Champion, Tech Lead at HubSpot (@Graysky)
"Adding an Easter egg can be a fun diversion when writing challenging code ... and it'll hopefully amuse some people, too."
Chase Oliver, HubSpot UI designer (@ThinklikeCo)
"Our customers spend a lot of time using HubSpot, and making it feel a little less like work goes a long way toward making it a more enjoyable experience. It makes people wonder what else is hidden, and it encourages exploration." (By the way, you may want to check out Chase's recent post on design philosophy.)
Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist (@Pistachio)
"I feel like Easter eggs are part of the 'developer' personality. These are very smart people who love solving puzzles, and the intricacies of their work isn't ever fully appreciated by most of the customers using their product. So by hiding an Easter egg, they can reward the customers who do take that extra initiative to really dig in and appreciate the software -- and what goes into making it."
Spoiler Alert: Go No Further if You Like Surprises
Writing this post was a little like revealing the secret to a magic trick, so if you like to be caught off guard, it's completely okay to stop reading now. Here, watch this video of baby pandas playing on a slide instead. I don't want you to go away empty-handed.
Okay, Now Onto the Joy ...
Easter egg hunting is a little easier if you've got a map. With some help from co-workers, Reddit, Little Big Details, Quora, and other sites, I've compiled a starter map for you, complete with some of the best hidden features out there.
Ooooh, I wanna dance with somebody. You can judge a lot about a company's personality by the way they dance. Take video hosting company Wistia for example. Now that's a crew who knows how to move. See for yourself: Go to Wistia's 'About Us' page, and type the word dance.
Lean with me. Google has a witty streak, and it's a literal one. Not sure what I mean? Try searching for the following words and phrases:
- Do a barrel role
- The loneliest number
- Answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything
Do or do not, there is no try. Every year for Geek Week, YouTube developers hide a treat within the wildly popular video site. Since this is an annual event, there are tons of Easter eggs out there for you to find. Let's start with a classic. Type use the force Luke into the search bar, and see what happens. Not a Star Wars fan? There's a hidden treasure for Trekkies, too: Try searching Beam me up Scotty.
Doppelganger. If you try to create an account in MailChimp with a username that already exists, you'll get a special notice from the bodyguard-team over at MailChimp. Hat tip to the site Little Big Details for informing me about this one and others.
Here boy! Here Rover! At HubSpot, we love our beta testers so much that we got them each a puppy. There's a part of the HubSpot platform currently in beta (we're not going to tell you which one) in which you can type the word rover and see a furry friend appear. Isn't he cute? Our beta and usability testers help us make the software and our website better all the time. Sound like your kind of club? Whether you're a customer or not, you can sign up to be a beta or usability tester here.
Current status: upside-down. Go into your general account settings on Facebook, and elect to change your default language. Doing so will give you a bevy of options -- everything from English to Shqip. Mixed into the global languages, you'll find a few non-sequiturs: Upside-down, Pirate, Leet Speak, and others. Choose one of those, and your whole Facebook experience will change.
7) Google (Again)
Nietzsche is such a nitpicker. Thinking about checking out Google Docs? Google has a demo page all set up for you ... you and some of the greatest minds of history. Click here and start typing in the doc; you'll see what I mean.
8) HubSpot (One More Time)
Slow down, Shakespeare. Brevity is key on Twitter. We all know that if you go over 140 characters, you'll get blocked from posting, but in HubSpot's Social Media Publishing tool, there's a special message for you if you compose a tweet that's over 500 characters. Customers can see it here. Oh, and there's another hidden message if you hit 140 characters on the dot, you precise genius, you.
9) Black Acre Brewing
Old enough for He-Man. If you're under 21, you're not quite old enough to drink, but you are old enough for He-Man. Visit Black Acre Brewing, and click on "I Am Under 21" to see what I mean.
You break it, you buy it. Dutch retail site HEMA has a trick product page on its website. Bump the mug, and catastrophe ensues. Actually, catastrophe will ensue no matter what.
11) Google (Last Time ;-)
I'm feeling click-happy. Those clever folks at Google are at it again. Hover over the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button without typing anything into the search box first, and Google will decide for you, spinning into "I'm Feeling Hungry," "I'm Feeling Stellar," and other options. Clicking on one will bring you to a topic-specific page.
An emoticon is worth a thousand words. It's not really an Easter egg since it's documented on HipChat's site, but group chat platform HipChat enables you to drop a wide array of more than 150 emoticons into your chats. This sneaks in as an Easter egg even though it's a documented feature because the number of emoticons available grows all of the time and without notice. It becomes a mystery and challenge to uncover the newest ones. In the past, additions have included the faces of Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Carell, and Michelle Tanner from "Full House" (you got it, dude).
13) One More From YouTube
Oppan billion style. When the wildly popular Psy video "Gangnam Style" reached 1 billion views, YouTube celebrated by adding a dancing Psy to the play count. It has since been removed, but design blog Little Big Details made a gif to preserve it for a while longer ...
For the sake of my productivity level and your own, I'm going to stop there. But there are countless more Easter eggs out there to find, so I'll leave the rest of the hunt up to you. If you stumble upon a few great ones, come on back and leave them in the comments below. Happy hunting!
Originally published Nov 28, 2013 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016