Psychology says that humans base their decisions on emotions rather than logic. Hence, as designers it is imperative to understand the concept of emotional design and why it is important to create products with better user experience.
A great design can activate a person’s positive emotions such as happiness, joy, and amusement and make them do things greater than just responding to the stated needs like clicking to read more, which helps to deliver a great user experience.
In this article, you will learn about emotional design and how UX designers use them to create remarkable and unforgettable UX designs.
Let’s get started.
What is emotional design?
Emotions can’t be seen but their presence can be felt and are a major component influencing decision making. As humans, we prefer to repeat positive experiences as they make us feel good and avoid negative experiences.
Our brain knows the emotion attached to negative experiences and avoids repeating the same mistakes. In simpler terms, emotional design is how a particular digital product design makes users feel. It significantly impacts the success of a website or an app.
Generally, people’s emotional responses are clubbed into three stages.
This is the basic and simplest form of emotional response and is referred to as the “first impression”. The visceral reaction is instantaneous, involuntary of our conscious mind. It happens subconsciously.
When the user sees a product for the first time, the aesthetic appearance of the product evokes emotions such as ‘attraction’. In case of a car, imagine seeing a Ferrari or Lamborghini on the road for the first time, you’ll feel, “Wow, that looks so cool and amazing!”
This level of emotional response indicates how users analyze and evaluate your product’s functionality.
Behavioural response happens subconsciously while this focuses on the emotions a user undergoes when the feedback while using a product meets expectation or not.
For example, if you buy a car that has been promised to deliver a certain fuel economy but falls short of this promise, you’ll feel frustrated and maybe even angry enough to complain to the company that sold you the car.
In UX design, we can think of whether the product meets its intended goal or not. If the product is meant to simplify a booking process, making it quick and easy, but if it takes users several steps and half an hour to book, that will infuriate users. Users will not return back to use the app and probably spread negative reviews about it.
This is the highest level and users at this emotional level consciously and comprehensively weigh the pros and cons of a product. At this stage, users form an overall impression of the design.
A person is considered to have reflective emotions when he/she recollects all the good memories and features of that particular product. It can be expressed as ‘I found this amazing restaurant with this app. We really had fun together!”
All the levels of emotional response are equally important.
While comprehensively examining the product, the users can recall their experiences in the Visceral stage ( first impression ). Every stage is interconnected.
As a UX designer, you’ve to satisfy all three levels to form an emotional and long-lasting positive relationship with users.
Emotional design is about building relationships with the users.
It’s the positive experiences and emotions attached to a product that creates a loyal fanbase for the business.
How to use the emotional design?
Let’s look at some examples of applying emotionally driven design to your website and mobile applications.
1. Use micro-interactions
Recall the Apple’s screen shake instance whenever you put in your incorrect password. This micro-interaction is a great example of sparking a connection with users. It mimics the person’s horizontal shake of the head to refuse something.
The use of emojis and sounds for a certain action is also a good micro gesture to start a connection with users.
Facebook does that with its Messenger. Remember the sound of the notification when someone pings you and also when you react to a post.
These small things go a long way in building an everlasting connection and making your product memorable.
2. Make them forget bad experiences
How to make a positive experience out of a negative one like when the internet gets down or a user faces 404 errors on your website or mobile applications?
It just takes one negative experience to ruin the emotion attached to your product.
Google has a dinosaur game that gets really interesting when the internet is down.
You can also offer consumable rewards on all 404 pages like free ebook or consultation call to recover from the negative experience.
This will not only showcase that you really care about your users but also is a great way of creating a positive experience out of a negative one.
3. Personalise every touchpoint
The mindfulness app called My life by Stop, Breathe and Think does a remarkable job at personalizing the experience by asking the users how are they feeling on the app’s welcome screen.
According to the emotions, the app provides personalized content.
You can apply the same technique to your website and mobile applications by asking the users’ moods and presenting the same relevant content to them.
This experience will stay in their mind rent-free.
Some renowned brands such as Netflix and Amazon use personalization and categorization to create a positive and happy experience for users.
Why emotional design will dominate?
As many businesses are working towards unifying the brand and users relationship, a customer-centric product design is the natural outcome and welcome with open arms.
In today’s time, businesses and platforms are actively reflecting on constructive feedback for designing a better product and building a robust relationship.
A Forbes study found out that 42% of millennials are interested in helping brands to create future products and services.
Companies in the past doesn’t believe in interviewing and collecting users’ data for the future product and expected them to use the product as soon as it hit the market.
It always left a gap between the companies and users.
The emotional design will help businesses fill that gap by constantly interacting with them and understanding their emotions, likings, dislikes, and voices that will help the business create a positive experience.
What are the benefits of emotional design?
1. Decreases bounce rate
In today’s fast-paced world, everyone hates a slow website.
Your websites and apps won’t succeed if the user bounces back quickly without taking any action.
A higher bounce rate reflects that the user is not happy with the content or the design of the product. It also affects Google’s search ranking significantly.
A great emotional design will help you decrease the bounce rate by understanding your users, their emotions, mood and presenting them with the exact content when needed, which in turn personalizes the whole experience.
You can also minimize any delays in presenting information and present a clear and concise message without much complexity to give a positive experience to the user.
2. Prevents Bad Experiences
As we’ve discussed above our minds tend to repeat positive experiences because of the happiness involved and avoid getting into negative experiences.
Every product has some faults resulting in negative experiences.
However, emotion-driven design helps you convert those negative experiences filled with anger, frustration, and sadness into a positive one of happiness and excitement.
Emotional designs make your audience happy and they revisit for the feel-good factor.
3. Helps to connect with the user
Connections are made on emotions.
They are always a winner for creating evergreen and long-lasting relationships with your users.
Emotion-driven design helps you attract a loyal fanbase as these users are emotionally attached to your brand and find themselves in your brand story.
Everyone feels that their products are the best, it’s the user experience that makes all the difference.
4. Increases user-engagement
The product design plays a major role in user engagement.
A perfect example would be a timely call to action with a simple user-centric design.
Again, users will engage with your digital product because it’s easy and they have a fun experience doing it.
The emotion-driven design ensures that a user feels happy, motivated, or excited at every touchpoint of the product.
It all boils to aligning the product design with the users’ emotions.
Your designs should showcase the level of your product and services and pass on positive experiences in the users’ minds.
Understand your audience, talk about their likes and dislikes, learn about the things that encourage them to take a particular action, and test products to figure out any emotional gaps in the product.
To give a fine touch to your emotional design, make your micro-interaction and animations a seamless process.
It helps your website and mobile applications with a unique personality.
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