On an average day we experience a wide range of emotions, such as disappointment when we have to get up early, happiness when we see our loved ones, anger when the train we are travelling on stops without forewarning, or frustration when we struggle to open a jar. In the same way emotions arise as we navigate and interact with our environment, these emotions are evoked when navigating and interacting with technologies. Some of these emotions are an unintended by-product of certain design qualities, whilst other emotional responses are the result of careful planning to improve the user experience associated with a particular product.

It is the role of designers to both understand how we are affected by the products they design and how they can be developed to (on a small scale) improve the associated user experience, and (on a much grander scale) improve our lives.

Disposition (how we feel), cognition (how we interpret), and design are all inextricably linked in determining a person's emotional state and the influence of design on emotion should be central to our thinking as those who design and develop products and technologies for human users. When we design and build products, the emotional response can become the deciding factor if it is a success of not. 

When we design, we consider the 3 main factors for the success of the UX of a product or service, and if one of these fail, then the product has failed for the user. 

  1. Effectiveness - how easy is it for the user to complete a task
  2. Efficiency - how quickly can the user complete the task
  3. User Experience - was completing the task an enjoyable experience without any issues

The emotional response is heavily tied into the 3rd point. If the user has a negative reaction to using the product, they will not want to use it again, which in turn affects adoption, business buy-in, investment in the product, future development, and so on. The solution might be easy to fix, or not, however in design, we preempt these emotional responses through user journey mapping and empathy mapping to identify remove potential pain points in the design phase. 

Don Norman (King of UX) describes three levels of emotion processing; 

  1. Visceral (attractiveness, pre-consciousness, first impression and feelings
  2. Behavioural (usability, function, performance and effectiveness)
  3. Reflective (meaning, impact, sharing the experience and cultural meaning)

It is critical that designers understand how emotional design envelops the entire experience, from first discovering the product, to using it, and finally to thinking about the product after it has been used.

If you think of any product or technology which you use often or even avoid using, think about the emotional response you have with it and how does it impact you use it.

When we look at a new product or technology, or redesigning/redeveloping a product or technology, we want to be user-centric. We put the user in the centre and ask them how they feel when using the product. A positive emotional response will mean a good user experience, which in turn will drive adoption of your product and make it a success. Good luck!

If you want to know more about user journey mapping, empathy mapping or emotional design, please get in touch!