Designing for Emotion

Designing for Emotion

Emotional design has become a powerful tool in creating exceptional user experiences for websites

When we see a well organized website with a professional, ‘clean look and feel’, with intuitive navigation and task oriented functionality, we often encounter a perception of credibility. We begin to trust that website, and have a secure feeling that it will answer to all our needs. Truly.

What does Emotion have to do with Design?

Emotion is one of the strongest differentiators in user experience namely because it triggers an unconscious response for, a product, website, environment or interface. Our feelings strongly influence our perceptions and often frame how we think about or refer to our experiences at a later date.

User experience designer Aarron Walter, and design lead for MailChimp defines emotions as the lingua franca of humanity, the native tongue that every human is born with. He describes it, in his new book ‘Designing for Emotion’ that emotions make a profound imprint on our long-term memory and create an experience for users that makes them feel like there’s a person, not a machine, at the other end of the connection.

So, when we think of Emotion design and usability for websites, we typically think of it as ‘keeping the user happy’.

But, indulging in emotions for a website is really about unravelling a multi-layered subject. It touches psychology, interaction design, content strategy, user experience, graphic design, customer service, and so much more. This also includes deconstructing to minimize poor usability such as frustration, annoyance, anger and confusion and constructing a personality that resonates with a website’s audience.

So how can we build the right emotions into our designs?

A website usually includes several elements that can make a design more personal and that can be regarded as ’emotion carriers’. Some of these are obvious, such as colors, images and shapes. Others are not so obvious, such as humor, recognition, tone of voice and engagement.

But before designers can apply to build emotions into their products, they need to know or address their internal design goals, identify who their users are and in what context they will use the website.

Of course, as with all of the above, the users and their context will determine how you engage them.

Internal design goals as well as the needs, expectations and context of users will determine how the designer should balance those three levels and what to emphasize in order to get the most out of the design.