When it comes to a brand’s toolkit, emotional design is like a superpower. After all, the strongest way to appeal to users is through their emotions.
Emotional design is all around us, engaging our emotions every day without doing so intentionally. It is an invisible design, which can be quite confusing for many people. The truth is wildly simple: designs that make the most impact are the ones that run deeply into a person’s subconscious emotionally. It’s the kind of feel-good that can’t quite be pinpointed but absolutely lifts the mood.
SO, WHAT IS EMOTIONAL DESIGN?
Unlike Brutalism or Memphis Design, there is nothing specific about emotional design. It’s more of a concept than anything. Essentially, it’s all about design being able to evoke certain emotions in viewers and/or visitors. There can be clear differences between certain designs in terms of feel and look, but they’d still fall under emotional design examples.
Any design which means to evoke a response emotionally in a viewer is, as the very term suggests, emotional design. The viewer does not get directed about how to feel. The viewer gets feelings in their system with design choices that are deliberate.
Consider, for example, job application portals online. The very idea of them is frustrating and stressful for many: Redundantly asking for the same information, blocks of text are everywhere, and their autofill features have a tendency to be faulty. Worst of all, some of them are ambiguous when it ends, and applicants are left uncertain whether their application was submitted in the first place.
On the other hand, take a decidedly minimalist portal without losing out on key features. For example, a progress bar moving with every field of information filled out. The all-important “end note” clarifies when you’re finished and has information on what to expect next and when. Isn’t that a far less exhausting situation?
Emotional design plays a great role in this: the latter makes job application more responsive and convenient.
THREE DESIGN LEVELS ACCORDING TO DON NORMAN
Donald “Don” Norman has done extensive research on emotional design’s concept. The Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego)’s director has written numerous design books. One of the works he’s most known for is “The Design of Everyday Things.”
His research found that there are three usual cognitive response types people have to the designs of products. These are:
- Behavioural – A subconscious judgment of how a design can assist them in getting goals.
- Reflective – A conscious evaluation of the value and usefulness of a design.
- Visceral – An automatic, immediate response to a design.
All three points have to be kept in mind for designs, especially when a whole brand identity is in question.
Emotional design plays a major role in the toolkit of brands. It’s a concept that involves emotions being evoked deliberately in users. When creating brand identities or similar, it’s important to keep Don Norman’s three levels of design in mind: visceral, behavioural and reflective.
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