As a professional graphic artist, it is often easy or downright convenient to think of design as a mechanical task required for you to execute in the most efficient manners. On the one hand, who can blame you? Design after all, is no less than a science.

It’s a very technical art that you spent years seriously training for in art school. Color theory, vanishing points, kerning, and proper proportions, are only some of the many methodical UX principles that you try to keep in mind when executing any given design task.

Most of what you’ve learned and picked up suggest that these are the things that create successful designs. However, while these technical principles ensure the proper, visual execution of a designer’s task, solely focusing on these aspects leave out another very important design element: emotion.

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Photo courtesy of Kaboompics via Pexels, Creative Commons.

Creating designs for the user experience is a common undertaking that contemporary designers come across. One of the most important things to remember about such tasks is that something as participatory as online user experience will always be emotive.

UX design meets emotional intelligence on many different levels and for many different reasons. Thus, it becomes every designer’s job to make sure that the designs they execute are not only visually stunning, but also emotionally moving. What exactly does emotion have to do with the user experience, you ask? Read on to find out the many ways.

Cold-blooded designs won’t get responses

The process of web designing is not solely a question of color, proportion, or functionality. Believe it or not, personality also has a lot to do with the way that web layouts are perceived.

According to Sylvia M. Lewis from the UX Movement website, “Personality is what expresses our emotions best. It is the personality that signifies whether you are an amusing, funky, serious, lazy, pragmatic, sincere, or down-to-earth fellow. So, integrating personality in your brand can certainly break the barriers that the consumer usually hit upon while interacting with your products and services.”

The look of a mascot or logo can make or break a brand’s rapport with its target audience, and spirited images will always garner more attention, likes and hits, than an indifferent-looking one.

Good design doesn’t end with usefulness and visual appeal

It’s also very important for web designers to remember that laying out an online platform does not end with visual appeal and usability. While it’s very important to make a website functional and user-friendly, the ultimate goal is to give your target audience an enjoyable and meaningful experience.

Don Norman, who has written an entire book on emotional design, suggests that there are three levels to the viewer’s cognitive processing of design: the visceral, behavioral, and reflective aspects. These aspects combine visual allure, emotion and behavior, as well as logical reasoning to influence how a viewer responds to a product or service.

Needless to say, it’s not enough to make a website look nice. It’s also imperative to appeal to emotion and logic as well, or your site will not have an impact.

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Give it a personal touch! Photo Courtesy of Kaboompics via Pexels, Creative Commons.

Memorability is a matter of pathos

It’s the goal of every designer and company owner to make sure that whatever product, service or website they put out there gains recall among the target audience. Emotion plays a big role in achieving this because more than any linguistic code, emotions are universally relatable.

Don Norman also suggests that emotions tend to create very clear imprints in a viewer’s long-term memory. It gives your audiences “an experience… that makes them feel like there’s a person, not a machine, at the other end of the connection.” Thus, they are more likely to respond to, empathize with, and remember the contents of the website.

Have you heard of the flow state?

In connection with the previous reason, such an empathic experience can often trigger a “flow state” among audiences, which allows them to experience concentrated intensities of enjoyment. This in turn, results to longer periods of time spent actually browsing through and engaging with the website.

The better and more involved your design makes a viewer feel, the more likely he or she will spend minutes, or even hours on your site. Ultimately, this will also create a higher chance for that viewer to become a patron of your brand.

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Photo courtesy of Start Up Stock Photos via Pexels, Creative Commons. 

Emotive design creates a passionate audience

Once a successfully emotive website or campaign is created, and once it establishes that very intimate, empathic connection with the viewer, the brand that you’re trying to build can find instant, passionate brand ambassadors among its audience.

If they have a generally positive and memorable experience with your website, they’ll more likely feel the urge to talk about that experience, and expose your online platform to their different circles of friends. Needless to say, such good rapport is your company’s advantage. To create believers among your site viewers is to expand the clout of your marketing as well.

People want something meaningful

At the end of the day, your audience is always looking for a meaningful experience. No one wants to spend their precious time scrolling through a cold, indifferent, meaningless website, no matter how pretty it might look. You can use all the color theory you want and kern your typography for hours on end, but if the site doesn’t move viewers, none of them will take the time to be bothered.

Business expert Nathan Shedroff puts it best when he said, “Meaning is the deepest connection that you can make with your audience/user/customer. Meaning is established between people, between people and objects, people and places, etc., and it is the deepest part of those invisible connections.”

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Remember who you’re designing for! Photo courtesy of Kaboompics via Pexels, Creative Commons.

An emotional UX experience is a positive one

To sum everything up, utilizing emotion in design equips the web designer with the ability to give a target audience generally positive experiences which gives a brand better recall.

Well-executed UX design is playful, engaging, and memorable. It encourages viewers to engage with the site on a very personal level, appealing to their capacity to trust, enjoy, and love the brand. An appeal to pathos or emotions is one of the oldest and most reliable manners of persuasion and marketing (even Aristotle says so!) and it might just be the most powerful UX design tool in your artist’s arsenal yet!


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