Effective emotional design promotes user engagement and may generate a favourable emotional reaction from users.
Design is basically an act of communication, which involves having a profound knowledge of the individual with whom you are interacting.
Successful businesses understand the importance of appealing to the emotions of their consumers, resulting in a significant competitive advantage. To what extent can we identify the motivating factors that encourage people to connect with each other? Investigating this question is essential in order to understand why certain businesses are more successful than others in connecting with their target audiences.
Motivators are capable of being manipulated through emotional design, opening up opportunities for advancement and competitive advantage.
What Role Does Emotion Play in Visual Presentation?
Design is all around us, and it is designed to elicit an emotional response in the viewer. Our senses are constantly taking in the world around us, and we can often feel our reactions to it – whether it be a feeling of delight, irritation, or excitement. This response is deeply personal and directly connected to our own lives.
It is widely accepted within the user experience design field that each interaction with any product elicits a response – an experience – regardless of whether it was designed with user experience in mind. An example of this can be seen in industrial design; the outcomes of this process often evoke an emotion from consumers, such as satisfaction or displeasure.
The Response: Emotion
We must take a moment to consider the meaning of UX design: “UX design considers how a user interacts with and responds to an interface, service, or product.” This response is often emotional. Designers who prioritise the user experience strive to do more than merely create products that are simple to use; they also desire to evoke a certain sentiment in the user (ideally a positive one) when they engage with the product and retain that sentiment for as long as feasible.
Emotional Design is a concept that looks at how a product’s design, or the experience of using the product, can affect the user’s emotional state. This can be broken down into three distinct levels: visceral, behavioural and reflective. Visceral emotion is an immediate response to the product’s design, while behavioural emotion is an emotion that is experienced during actual use of the product. Reflective emotion is the emotion experienced after the product has been used, or when the user reflects on their experience with the product. There is a lag time between each of these stages, and more will be discussed on this later.
Extreme Pragmatism and Utilitarianism
The concept of “form follows function” has been a popular aesthetic since the early twentieth century. This aesthetic can be traced back to “functional design,” which is based on the idea that the form of a product or structure should be determined primarily by its intended function, rather than aesthetic considerations. This concept has since evolved into “emotional design,” which emphasises the emotional responses that a product or structure can evoke.
Brutalism and utilitarianism share a similar ideology of prioritising utility over aesthetics, and the use of affordable, widely-available materials. This can be seen in concrete and steel housing projects in the United Kingdom, such as those found in London, and in Eastern European countries during the communist era.
Considerations of Appearance and Perceived Utility
In the early 1990s, two Japanese researchers conducted a study to examine how the aesthetics of a product influences consumers’ perceptions of its usefulness. The study focused on two different designs for automated teller machine (ATM) control panels, in which the functionality of each model was identical but the user experience of one was more streamlined than the other. Upon evaluating the two designs, the participants of the study rated the ATM with a more aesthetically pleasing interface as being more user-friendly.
Established in the early 1900s, Braun is a well-known German manufacturing and design firm that is renowned for its simple yet sophisticated products. Braun has exceeded expectations in providing products that are not only functional, but also stylish and aesthetically pleasing. Their timeless designs have earned them a reputation for excellence in the industry.
People aren’t satisfied with just utilitarian designs that are packed with features. They are inadequate and no longer meet consumers’ needs.
Basic designs are usually practical, but exceptional ones also have a message.
The Pyramid of Emotional Design
According to Abraham Maslow’s renowned 1943 work, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” human motivation is based on the need for satisfaction and growth. Maslow proposed a five-tier “hierarchy of needs” in which self-actualization and self-transcendence are paramount. This framework of understanding human motivation has since been adapted to further include emotional design, which can be conceptualised in its own pyramid.
It has been observed that people tend to believe that objects which are both aesthetically pleasing and functional operate better than those which are not. This has been demonstrated in a Japanese ATM trial which demonstrated that the design of a product can have an influence on its perceived usefulness. Furthermore, customers may be so pleased with the visual appeal and thoughtful design of a product that they are willing to overlook any minor flaws.
Do you still reflect upon Blackberry and Nokia? Memories may come to mind, but both companies are essentially a thing of the past. When comparing their designs to the sleek and aesthetically appealing models of the iPhone and Samsung, it is evident that these newer devices have been designed with the user in mind.
Brain and Emotions
It is a fact that emotions can have an impact on the functioning of the human brain. Negative experiences can lead to constriction of thinking, causing individuals to feel anxious and uneasy. This can lead to a focus on the wrong aspects and a lack of any feeling of freedom or liberation. Furthermore, if a website or app is poorly designed and fails to meet user expectations, it can evoke strong emotions such as anger. This is commonly referred to as “computer fury.” When this happens, the individual’s heart rate increases and they become irritated, often leading to them leaving the website or removing the app altogether. This is an example of a design that has gone wrong, resulting in very strong emotions. On the other hand, when designing for emotions, it is important to evoke pleasure and feelings of security and safety.
“Design is the Way It Operates”
The introduction of transparent, candy-coloured iMacs in 1998 marked a major shift in the personal computer market, as it signalled the start of a general industrial design revolution. Whereas before the market was saturated with beige-box PCs, the iMacs provided an innovative and aesthetically pleasing alternative that resonated with consumers and propelled Apple to success.
The groundbreaking idea that design is rooted in emotion was first articulated by Steve Jobs. Far too often, people wrongly assume that design is simply an aesthetic veneer, an attempt to make something visually appealing. However, this is not an accurate representation of design. According to Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, Inc., in his book “The Guts of a New Machine”, design is so much more than just how something looks and feels – it is also about how it functions.
Product simplicity is important, but consumers also want goods that are entertaining to use.
From Observational to Participatory
In the past, humans lacked the capacity to engage in interactive exchanges with the objects and processes in their immediate environment. Consequently, devices appeared to be unidirectional and inert. There was no real two-way communication due to the lack of interaction. For instance, if one needed to go from point A to point B, they had to use an automobile. Nowadays, we have come to expect communication with the car and it has begun to reciprocate. We have begun to form an emotional connection with it. Previously, turning on a device like a TV or record player was as straightforward as pressing a button. However, we are now seeing the emergence of music apps, smart TVs, and even fridges that use apps to notify users when they are out of milk.
It is becoming increasingly common to form emotional connections with machines, which often leads to the practice of anthropomorphism, the attributing of human motivations, attributes, and feelings to inanimate objects. When these objects fail to meet the expectations we have for them, it can be incredibly frustrating and lead to feelings of a lack of control. This frustration can quickly manifest into anger, whereas if the user finds the desired result at the desired time, it can lead to a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.
How Can We Provide an Optimal Emotional Design That Inspires Happiness?
In order to improve the customer experience, it is essential to consider the emotional impact of the products and services being provided. User testing and research are invaluable tools in this regard, as they can help to identify potential issues and areas of dissatisfaction. By creating a touch-point map to mark out points of contention, designers can work towards addressing these issues and providing a more positive experience for customers. Additionally, designers should seek out ways to make beneficial times more enjoyable for customers, such as providing helpful guidance or pleasant visuals to make the process easier.
Intuitive, Behavioural, and Analytical
A great design will appeal to consumers on all three levels—intuitive, behavioural, and analytical—to ensure the product’s success.
Intuitive styleIt is essential to capture the attention of an audience through an effective design. A good design has the power to elicit a favourable response from the viewer, creating a sense of trust and reliability in the product. Furthermore, the design can influence the perceived ease of use of the product. It is therefore important to make sure that the first impression your product makes is strong, as it is impossible to recreate the initial impact. Your product’s design must speak to the viewer on a visceral level in order to be successful.
Behavioural style Through meticulous planning, it is possible to modify people’s behaviour with the phrase “I can do it”. I am proud to have achieved this and am confident that the product will both be user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. The satisfaction that comes from utilising something to its fullest potential is invaluable. The concept of “behavioural design” focuses on ensuring that the structure or system meets the requirements of its users. It is similar to the analogy of a lock and key, in which the consumer is the key and the product is the lock; when both are working in harmony, something beautiful is created.
One’s state of mind can quickly become downcast if the product or service they have acquired is not satisfactory. Ultimately, the primary goal of products and services should be to bring joy to the people using them; thus, they must function properly and be compatible with the user’s needs. Statistics show that 77% of individuals who have downloaded an app have removed it within 72 hours. The most successful and popular applications are those which users become so accustomed to that they cannot imagine life without them.
The Analytical styleThe aesthetic appeal of a product undeniably has a great influence on our purchasing decisions. It is not only about the way a product looks, but also how it makes us feel about ourselves. People want to buy products that they believe will make their lives easier and make them look good. Therefore, it is essential to consider the visual design of a product when creating it in order to ensure that it meets the expectations of potential customers. Not only will this ensure that they are able to enjoy the experience of using the product, but it will also foster a greater sense of connection with the product itself. Ultimately, a product should be designed to make people feel good, with an emphasis on its performance and quality. In essence, creating a product with an aesthetically pleasing design will lead to a greater sense of satisfaction for the customer.
Despite how obvious it may appear, for a design to generate an emotional response from its viewers, it is essential for it to resonate with them. Companies with a strong presence in the market invest millions annually in order to evoke an emotional connection with their consumers. Similarly, for designers to create successful, meaningful work, they should strive to establish an emotional bond with the audience.
Consequently, designers should strive to incorporate into their designs a feeling of “personality,” or a characteristic that makes them more relatable to the real world and improves the user experience.
Everything is Changing
In recent years, app developers have begun to focus more on dynamic micro-interactions and screen modifications to create an “alive” feel with their apps. This approach is based on the idea that the physical world is constantly changing and in a state of flux, with no hard-cuts. Animations and transitions in user interfaces (UIs) allow developers to emulate this feeling of perpetual motion and establish an anthropomorphic connection between the user and the digital product. This sense of continuity, liveliness, and animation makes the product more inviting and appealing to the user, as it conveys a greater sense of emotion.
Conclusion: Beauty That Serves a Purpose and Emotion
It is not enough to simply declare that we are creating a software-driven solution that will promote technological progress while also being practical and advantageous to people. In today’s landscape, where technology has equalised opportunities, almost anyone can assemble a team and use technology to develop useful, feature-rich products for everyday consumers. However, it is much more difficult to gain a thorough understanding of customers’ motivations and behaviours. If we wish to deliver an optimal customer experience, which would result in a competitive advantage and growth, we must be able to translate our insights into effective, emotive design that is both aesthetically pleasing and distinct.