March 28, 2016

Let’s Talk About:

Designing for Emotional Connection

Our relationship with the internet is more intimate and personal than ever before. With much of life happening online, for better or worse, the apps we use and sites we frequent should feel warm, human, and worth living in.

Design that creates personal interactions and builds an emotionally driven relationship with users is where it’s at these days. Intuitive UX, meaningful visuals, and content with a human feel all combine to build that relationship. It’s not enough to only think of how people use what we build, but we should be thinking about how people feel when they use it. How do users feel about the app and themselves when they use it?

When we recently redesigned pow wow, a tool that helps people coordinate meetings and connect with each other, we knew we wanted users to connect with pow wow itself too. Check out pow wow’s case study to see how we made a calendar tool lovable and warm.

pow wow, Smarter Appointment Scheduling

Community Thoughts on Designing for Emotional Connection...

  1. 1. The Most Intimate Relationship in Your Life: Your Smartphone I say “relationship,” and it’s a word I mean in all of its ambivalent, yearning, chest-tightening intensity. A few technologies occupy a startlingly intimate place in most modern lives. Our smartphones are among the most sacred and personal of our possessions, rarely out of sight or mind. For many of us, they are the first thing we touch when we wake in the morning and the last thing we touch when we go to bed at night.
  2. 2. Look and Feel and Feel What kind of behavior can we encourage? What kind of moments can we create for people? What do people anticipate before they use something? How does it leave them feeling when they’re done? These are now some of the most important questions for me when working on a design.
  3. 3. Designing for Emotion Emotional design connects with an audience in ways we could have never fathomed when we were designing websites that inflated our public persona with an insincere facade that nobody gave a damn about. Today, we can channel our own personality into our work so our users can feel like they’re interacting with a real human— not a corporate avatar. They love us for our sincerity, they trust us because they see themselves in our brand, and when we make inevitable mistakes, they’ll be more likely to forgive us because our earnestness is visible.
  4. 4. Don’t Take That Tone With Me Failing to take emotional state into account results in content that’s tone deaf to users’ in-the-moment needs. You risk offending instead of entertaining, coming off flippant when you should communicate empathy. When this happens, you miss opportunities to connect with users in a meaningful way.
  5. 5. What App Design Looks Like in 2016 The apps users turn to are an extension of who they are. Those apps represent their idea of their own digital extension or lifestyle. Take Uber’s rebranding as an example. We took Uber’s change from a “U” to colorful geometry (the shape of which depends on whether the user is a rider or driver) personally because we consider these brands and products our own. They’re part of our identity. The apps we choose are used to make a statement about who we are and what we value.

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