How to Create Emotional Interfaces and Improve UX
Eliciting emotions in consumers is something every great brand should excel at. No matter the size of a business, emotionally-motivated consumers rely on their subconscious to direct their buying decisions – and those emotions lead them to invest in a company time after time. But what are emotional interfaces – and how can web designers use them to improve user design to boost a business? From why a site needs emotional design to how designers implement it, we’ll cover it all.
Why does a site need emotional interfaces?
The short answer is that emotions drive actions. Research has long shown that while consumers think they’re savvy, their purchasing behaviors stem from how they feel about a product or brand.
For example, studies suggest that shoppers’ emotional responses to ads influence their buying habits more than the content in the advertisement. Of course, the research doesn’t mean business owners should rely purely on fear tactics or feel-good imagery to sell their product or service. But it does mean that emotional interfaces might be more influential than they expected.
How can designers make consumers feel good about a brand?
If it’s not a brand’s commitment to competitive service or a quality product that attracts key audiences, what makes consumers feel positive emotions toward a particular brand? It’s tough to pinpoint one specific element. Often, consumer perceptions depend on a blend of factors – but don’t lose hope just yet.
As a designer, you can help consumers feel more positive about brands by incorporating emotional design into the user experience.
How to use emotional interfaces to support UX design
Now that you know as a designer that consumers’ feelings are a significant part of their purchasing decisions, how can you adjust your work to help them harbor more positive feelings while shopping? Choose a few elements to tweak, one at a time, and measure the results.
A. Incorporate diverse design styles and techniques
A dull website won’t elicit an emotional response. But good UX design is about more than smart color schemes and design elements. Techniques like flat design – which balances high-quality content with 2D elements and primary colors – help remove the visual clutter on a website.
Progressive disclosure is another strategy that helps guide consumer behavior and elicit emotion. With progressive disclosure, consumers can be directed toward the options entrepreneurs want them to choose from.
Clearing visual and cognitive obstacles off the screen helps users focus – and it can streamline the sales funnel. There’s a reason why progressive disclosure is excellent for dashboard design – but its applications are practically limitless.
B. Improve UX by using smart and creative interactions
Navigating a website’s interface may not make users light up with joy. But interacting with a website that has a sense of humor can upgrade the user experience – and even help hasten sales.
However, prioritizing other emotional elements over humor may be prudent. Research suggests that some humor may help advertising goals – but consumers tend to report higher likability with brands that use emotions other than humor.
Still, snappy website copy and interactions go a long way toward enhancing consumer comfort. The likability of a brand depends on the voice it has – throughout design and writing.
C. Implement visual elements for emotional appeal
Triggering emotions may be simpler than business owners think. Specific colors can imbue a certain mood – blue can mean stability, while red is vibrant and exciting. When HubSpot tried out color psychology on its readership, a red CTA button was 21 percent more effective than green. Typography can have a similar effect.
To better understand this, designers can think about the contrast between copy written in Times New Roman versus the same paragraph penned in Comic Sans: fonts matter, especially in consumers’ perceptions of brands. An unreadable font can also have a significant impact on UX.
Contrasting visual elements (and color schemes) are also an excellent way to grab and keep customers’ attention. Balance is essential, however – overdoing it is a recipe for brand mistrust and audience overwhelm.
D. Target specific emotions through design
Choosing a specific emotion – or a subset of emotions – is an excellent first step when addressing UX design. Whether a business owner wants his brand to feel commanding and stable or relatable and warm, as a web designer, you already know that consistency is key.
But the color scheme and emotional vibe also need to mesh with the website’s design of your client. There are entrepreneurs with a bit of a tech background that build the site for themselves, thinking that they know their business better than anyone else, and thus, their site will be impeccable.
Although it can be attractive, especially from a financial point of view, this approach is not the best idea in the long-term. Enlisting the help of an expert in both design and development is smart to achieve a cohesive and impactful site. Therefore, consulting a graphic designer hiring guide is a valuable first step toward finding the best fit for the job. Hiring a specialist is a long-term investment that will prove its value for a business.
E. Emphasize emotions with well-crafted copy (& microcopy)
With all this talk of design and user experience, you, the designer, might have forgotten about web copy. But website copy is a vital part of user design – and doing it wrong could cost a company.
Writing UX microcopy involves a specific understanding of the brand’s persona and messaging. As Adobe highlights, you want brief, actionable, authentic, and contextually-fitting microcopy on every element on the website. Collaborating with talented copywriters is a must-have, so keep in mind to discuss this with the company owner.
Like those early consumer purchasing behaviors indicated, storytelling is an essential part of the user experience. Nonetheless, it is often overlooked by company owners. That’s why it is important to explain to them that integrating storytelling into their branding and website helps communicate who they are as a brand. It shows what values they possess – but stories also help explain why who they are matters to their audience.
Forbes even notes that storytelling can be 22 times more memorable than facts. For that reason, the publication calls it “the future of marketing” – and most brands agree.
The bottom line for entrepreneurs is: What you say may not be as important as how you say it.
F. Put effort into the details
Website redirects serve no purpose, other than to notify a visitor that they’ve mis-clicked. Right?
Every aspect of a website can affect consumer perceptions – so it’s best to cover all your bases. Improving UX design with emotional design requires attention to detail and this aspect needs to carefully be explained to entrepreneurs.
For example, have a conversation with them about ways to innovate when it comes to page loading messages, 404 copy and imagery, and other often-overlooked elements. These are all opportunities to spread their branding – and boost consumer awareness – across the site.
G. Offer incentives for behaviors
Everyone wants something for free – and the savviest companies are happy to oblige. Offering incentives for a specific behavior – say, a freebie for signing up for a mailing list – is a great way to both improve user design and cultivate positive consumer emotions.
The catch is that the “prize” needs to offer value. Giving away free junk won’t get brands anywhere – entrepreneurs should ensure that surprises are valuable, actionable, and worth trading for an email address or other commitment.
Essential Reasons Why Emotional Design Plays a Crucial Role in User Experience
User experience design – or UX design – literally means supporting an audience through usability.
If a site isn’t easy to navigate, rewarding to interact with, and a stepping stone to achieving a particular behavior (like buying a product), consumers will abandon it.
Here are the other reasons why emotional interfaces play such a crucial role in user design and as a designer, make sure you provide enough details to your client, the company owner.
1. Increases user engagement
When a company’s website is easy to navigate and helps the audience achieve their goals, engagement will grow. Especially if consumers find a brand likable, odds are they’ll stick around longer.
2. Boosts brand value
From messaging to color scheme and writing style, every part of a site’s UX design can boost brand value. By adding emotional design elements, designers can play to consumer perception and enhance a brand’s reputation.
3. Maintains site originality and integrity
Entrepreneurs don’t want their brand to be like every brand out there – so the site shouldn’t be, either. An original, interactive, and user-friendly site helps their brand stand out.
As noted, enhancing a brand’s emotional design can also boost a brand’s reputation. That also means the higher its integrity in the eyes of the users.
4. Reduces visitor bounce rate
A site that loads quickly is visually appealing and easy to navigate will keep visitors around longer. Erratic visuals, awkward color schemes, and hard-to-read menus won’t invite site visitors to stick around – so emotional design helps keep the audience on the page longer.
5. Imbues personality into customer interactions via products and services
Again, a site with personality is a brand with personality – and that’s what will earn business owners return customers. Making consumers feel good should be the highlight of each click, pageview, and purchase with emotional interfaces that is beneficial for both sides.
Final Thoughts on Incorporating Emotional Design into UX
Incorporating emotional interfaces into design work isn’t as easy as it sounds for many business owners. But the benefits are too tempting to resist – so what can they do?
Embracing CSS developers as part of the team can have a profound impact on a web designer’s emotional design efforts. Navigating the process, however, can be a challenge for a company. Learning how to hire a specialist starts with understanding the difference between knowledge and expertise.
Once a company owner decides to enlist the help of an expert, amplifying their brand’s messages – and emotional appeal – will be effortless.