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Emotional Design - Real Impact on Users

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Emotional Design - Real Impact on Users

Keep your users coming back to your application more by creating design that appeals to them on an emotional level as well as an aesthetic level.

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[Latest Guide] Ship faster because you know more, not because you are rushing. Get actionable insights from 7 million commits and 85,000+ software engineers, to increase your team's velocity. Brought to you in partnership with GitPrime.

Every day we come across with multiple products, applications, websites, and design. In the marketplace these products are not one of a kind — there are competitors who offer almost identical functionality. So why do we prefer one over the other? What makes things "good" or "bad"? It’s more than what the product does, it’s how the product makes you feel.

Apps, websites that we use on a daily basis are not only about functionality anymore, they also should trigger the user’s emotions. Humans are curious beings; we like interactions, appealing and memorable elements and things that are responsive and engaging. People are looking for a way to connect easily and emotionally.

Emotional Design?

The emotional design strives to create products that elicit appropriate emotions, in order to create a positive experience for the user. You might call it the secret sauce of many successful products. They are vital for building healthy and trustworthy relationships with the online audience. They give us a sense of comfort, reliability, reassurance. Emotional design has the power to turn users into fans, spreading the word about products they love.

“A chef in a restaurant wants his food to be more than edible, he wants it to be delicious. As designers, we should want our websites to be more than usable.” —Stephen Anderson

The Design Hierarchy of Need

The Old Hierarchy of design needs explains five categories ranked by importance, in which the hierarchy from low to high would be functionality, reliability, usability, proficiency, and creativity.


Today's design world calls for one more layer at the top for "Emotion," which helps to prioritize and understand the fundamental needs a design must address. The most important needs are at the bottom and, like Maslow’s model, are deficiency needs. A design that does not meet these needs is unlikely to succeed. As you address the lower layers you’re then able to focus on the higher-level needs such as proficiency, communication, and emotion. Sometimes it seems the all the layers are independent and we’re not really required to fulfill lower-level design needs in order to address higher ones, though the best design will be achieved only by meeting the requirements on every level.

design-layers An Aspect of Emotional Design

A designer should address the human cognitive ability at the following levels or elements in his design to elicit appropriate emotions so as to provide a positive experience. As mentioned in the twos books Emotional Design by Don Norman, and Designing for Emotion by Aaron Walter, a designer should add three basic aspects of his design:


It appeals to our first reactions when we encounter a product. It mainly deals with aesthetics and the perceived quality from mere look and feel, and the engagement of the senses. Here, we are more concerned about examining what the user's “gut” reactions tell them about an application or product.


It refers to the usability of the product, our assessment of how well it performs the desired functions, and how easily we can learn how to use it. It provides more justified opinion about an application.


It is concerned with our ability to project the product’s impact on our lives after we have used it—e.g., how it makes us feel when not holding it, or what values we find ourselves attaching to the product in retrospect. Here is where designers will want to maximize the users’ desire to own that item.

How to Implement Emotion in Design?

Replicate the emotion – What kind of emotions you are trying to inspire? Whether it is joy, surprise, exclusivity, belief, hope, or fear, you can write in a specific tone, using corresponding words, color, design, and phrases that come across as serious or casual.

Rethink microcopy – It’s all about the details, form labels, button labels, error messages, and notifications. Anything used as default text needs to be customized in order to relate to users and their reaction on it.

Be attentive and caring – This mainly refers to critical error pages, search result pages, website downtime messages and any other frustrating situations when users need you the most. Try to soften annoying experiences and compensate and engage for some time.

Contrast and Delight – Design should be unique and look different from competitors to make it stand out. The shape, color, typography, emojis, placement of content, and overall functional approach helps to provide a different feeling to the user.

Variable Surprise –  It's human nature to get bored easily. Surprise, delight, anticipation, elevating perceived status, and limiting access to elicit a feeling of exclusivity can all be effective in getting your audience to fall in love with your brand and give them a reason to come back.

For example, the Google Chrome plugin “Momentum” surprises its users every day with a different quote and background image from a beautiful destination. Users expect variability, but the exact image and quote is a mystery until it’s revealed, so each morning it’s a delightful experience

Be polite - Don’t forget to say “thank you” and “sorry.” Include small, pleasant surprises and express your appreciation for users.

Personality and Humour - We like interacting with humans more than machines, so adding personality to our products helps users to build a bond with them. Graphics, animation, voice tone, or funny animation gives a feel of an actual person and not the faceless bot, who talks and interact the user. 

Reward - Neuroscientists have found that dopamine is released in anticipation of a reward. It’s this positive rush of emotions that keep us repeating certain behaviors and can even lead to addictions. Instagram and Facebook, for example, use rewards very effectively. Users obsessively check their feed, because they’re hoping for likes on their last post, which would make them feel good.


Emotions are mighty instruments that in seconds reference the point across the website, motivate users, reach a required level of relationships and bolster the personality of the project. While emotional design alone does not make a product great, it has the power to inspire strong feelings in users, emotions which equate to high rates of retention and positive word-of-mouth. It’s a powerful growth hack that any company should take advantage of, and in today’s competitive market it’s becoming an essential element of success.

[Latest Guide] Ship faster because you know more, not because you are rushing. Get actionable insights from 7 million commits and 85,000+ software engineers, to increase your team's velocity. Brought to you in partnership with GitPrime.

ux ui design ,agile ,emotional design ,ui design ,heirarchy of need

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