Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking

by Mike Jansen

Extensive studies have shown the emotional design and color psychology of a brand can significantly impact the customer’s emotional journey. In fact, varying levels of emotional intelligence solicit different responses from your users. 

What this means is a brand must therefore be cognizant of the sensitivities of each of its consumers and be sure to target the right message, tone, and colors.

Why does UI/UX design matter for your business?

The importance of UI/UX is undisputed, first and foremost, because the way users interact with your site or app directly influences the interaction experience of other members of your business. The following article demonstrates and explores the correlation between emotional UX/UI design and increased conversion rates.

Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking
Customers with an emotional attachment are likely to recommend products at a rate of 71% and provide 306% more lifetime value

What are the benefits of Emotional UI/UX Design

The idea of emotional UI/UX design can be pretty daunting, but there are some concrete benefits you can reap from this approach.

Attracts more attention

Users feel more drawn to emotional content and respond with greater interest, especially in the current climate of remote working environments, when distractions are at our fingertips. With this, the business gains more brand recognition and gets more people to listen to its message.

Creates a memorable and emotional experience

A strong emotional response from users makes the business more memorable and emotionally engaging. Just take a look at Disney, one of the most revered brands in the world. The magic, the mystique, and the details are so captivating that you will have a hard time forgetting the company even after completing the initial research. This increases the willingness of potential users to take the next step into your business and improves customer retention.

Emotions affect us more than logic. 

Emotions shape our perception, and they can also influence our actions. When we view the world around us, we do it within the context of our personal experiences. You can achieve a higher level of recognition and influence if your brand’s design is emotive. 

What is the hierarchy of user needs?

Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking
The hierarchy of user needs as divided into human-centered and task-orientated and descending from meaningful to functional.

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However, before you focus on the emotional journey your users embark on when engaging with your brand, you must ensure that your business meets the other three crucial user needs: product functionality, reliability, and usability. 

Functionality

User experience starts at the top of the funnel with functionality. Therefore, your website’s interface and structure should be user-friendly and intuitive. Elements like clean navigation, intuitive tabbing, and helpful hints are crucial for getting users to appreciate your product.

Reliability

One of the best ways to ensure that customers see you as a trustworthy company is to invest in comprehensive testing. It is not uncommon for some of the biggest companies in the world to hire thousands of users to test new designs. When you invest in usability testing, you can ensure your website is user-friendly and convenient.

Usability

Any website or interface that is not easy for the end-user to navigate should be redesigned or rebuilt. It’s not the designer’s role to prevent users from making mistakes but rather to ensure the visual design is accessible and accommodating when users do make mistakes.

How to create an emotional user experience?

Every person is bound to respond to your business differently, but there are specific factors to focus on when trying to evoke emotion from your users. Creating an emotionally-charged user interface includes behavioral, reflective, and visceral impact.

Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking
The three levels of emotional processing include the visceral, behavioral and reflective impact

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Visceral Impact

The visceral impact happens to a person when the product or brand is no longer present. Examples of visceral impact include disgust, fear, dread, and excitement. Visual identity, consistency in visual representation, emotions, architecture, shape, color, script fonts, and semantic and logical meaning will help you achieve visceral impact.

Behavioral Impact

The behavioral impact is the emotional impact of a design or behavior. Users tend to respond to their experiences in a certain way. A designer can provoke an emotional response by targeting specific behavioral triggers. For instance, the emotional impact of the animation will be influenced by the user’s age, cultural background, and recent experiences.

Reflective Impact

The reflectivity of a product refers to its visibility in relation to its surroundings. The cognitive impact of your UI/UX design includes the elements of visual identity, usability, graphic design, and architecture. If your user interface is clean, intuitive, and accessible, you will achieve high reflectivity of your product or brand and in turn a higher emotional impact on your users.

What are emotional design elements?

Whether you’re creating traffic analysis software or apps for attorneys, emotional design elements are the keys to successful brand building. Because the success of your business will rely on the emotions and responses of your audience, they need to be carefully cultivated by design.

Emotional design elements can range from colors and calligraphy to layout and micro-interactions, all of which aim to elicit evocative responses from your customers.

Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking
How to cultivate love and trigger emotional responses in your audience by making your UI desirable, usable, and compelling.

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1. Micro Interactions

A micro-interaction is simply a touchpoint that makes the user feel more connected with your brand. The simplest form of a micro-interaction would be when a customer enters a website and can easily access all the pages by touching a few controls, for example, drop-down lists or quickly adding items to carts with just a click of a button.

2. Customizing Interactions (especially negative)

When customizing interactions that may otherwise be boring or frustrating to overworked employees, try to lighten the mood or offer words of encouragement, depending on your brand persona. A perfect example would be to customize your 404 error pages with comedic relief and calming colors to combat the frustration of being redirected to a broken link.

3. Simple Lettering

Small, evocative lettering can enhance a brand experience like an elegant font or decorative patterns in fonts. Try bold, natural lettering to differentiate your brand.

The 3 Dimensions of Emotion

When looking at consumers, the spectrum of emotions can be divided into three subsections: arousal, control, and pleasure:

Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking
Emotions can be triggered by value, arousal, and boredom or anxiety.

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What is Arousal?

In the words of Scott Fischer, one of the world’s leading experts on design psychology, “at the center of every emotional system is arousal.” To successfully create an emotionally-charged experience, there needs to be a compelling reason behind the designer’s design. The top three reasons behind engaging with a design include curiosity, authority, and investment.

What is Control?

The word control is a necessary term that needs to be defined for your business or design to succeed. You see, we are taught to protect ourselves from whatever happens in our life, be it good or bad, and that’s no different for products. 

At the heart of this emotion is the underlying feeling of urgency, and that’s because sometimes, the only way to find control is to be forced to take the next step forward. For instance: if you’re trying to push mobile app testing tutorials, you must not only convince them there’s a need for it, but also that it was their idea to pursue the tutorial not yours. 

What is Pleasure?

Pleasure is the enjoyment a user experiences when they perform an action or do an activity. It is more than just being ‘pleasurable’ as it has to do with satisfying a person’s expectations. It is the emotional impact that one gets when something is done right.

Color Psychology and emotional UX?

UX is primarily about the relationship between user and system, and these days we take that idea to a new level, touching on psychology, emotion, and design. The UX designer needs to be hyper-aware of how users connect with their devices. With the world in such a state of flux, and where experiences are rapidly changing, we must understand the ‘right’ experience for each individual. Particularly on the pillar pages highlighting a brand’s ethos, values, and product.

How we perceive a brand’s image depends mainly on how we feel when engaging with it. Setting emotions apart from reason and steering our reactions towards a greater purpose makes us more likely to give the brand we’re viewing our time and attention to achieve a business goal or result.

Color can impact the emotional journey your interface takes the user on and can be tailored to heighten or draw from specific emotional states. Color psychology involves taking into account various factors that influence how we feel when using a particular product or interacting with a specific brand.

This is because color associations are one of the most significant biases we have, a psychological phenomenon that affects our perception of an individual, brand, or company as a whole. 

By studying color psychology and knowing its impact on the way we see a product, color marketing enables you to reach your customers’ hearts by the time they finish looking at a website. 

This proactive design is ideal when making recommendations, such as recommending a power dialer to call centers or promoting marketing strategies, as certain colors can be used to reinforce the positive impact you’re providing.

Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking
A color wheel exploring which emotions are psychologically triggered by which colors

Why use color psychology?

Color psychology aims to understand your audience and provide them with a design that appeals to them. It’s no longer enough to design a good-looking website simply; you also need to ensure that people feel a certain way. For instance, if you’re a meditation site, you might use a calming blue color palette to provide a sense of hope and relief.

By identifying the exact emotion you’re hoping to evoke from your audience, selecting your brand colors becomes simple and simplifies the emotional user journey.

What are the 4 Motivational Quadrants?

There are four different quadrants that all consumers are motivated by and businesses should be aware of. Drawing inspiration from the Cuhelman Emotion Map, we can simplify the motivational quadrant into four different emotions: optimistic, secure, pessimistic, and insecure. 

1. Optimistic

With this consumer, your company’s most important goal is to build a good reputation. The company should operate transparently, employ ethical practices, and be appreciated by both customers and employees. This consumer often loves free shipping, benefits, and easy returns; they might even be googling ‘how to become an affiliate marketer’ for your brand.

Your company should cultivate a strong brand image and allow customers to have honest and open conversations with your company. 

Colors to use: Green, with light gray and white coming next.

2. Secure

Your customers are secure in their needs and decisions, feeling like they can share their experiences with others. These consumers do not typically shop around or research products thoroughly to purchase.

Your company’s most important goal is to create long-lasting, professional, and rewarding experiences for this consumer. Customers should feel happy and understood at your company.

Colors to use: Cool blue

Basics to Emotional UX/UI Design 101: How to Make Your Web Page Awe-Striking
The four emotional quadrants are divided into positives (optimistic and insecure) and negatives (pessimistic and secure)

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3. Pessimistic

With this consumer, your company’s most important goal is to provide rewards for the person purchasing. Customers should feel rewarded and understand that their loyalty is appreciated. They tend to spend their money on fast-paced products with high-profit margins.

Colors to use: Middle and dark gray

4. Insecure

If you were to ask a human customer service representative what they believe the most common problem is with customers, most of them would say that it is the Insecure Consumer.

This consumer wants to feel valued and wants your company to support them in the long run, even if it’s offering value through freebies, an enterprise digital transformation guide, or loyalty points. Insecure customers need to feel appreciated and know that their business is appreciated.

Colors to use: Red, orange, yellow, and other warm colors; use against high contrast black for optimal results

Experiment with an emotional UX/UI design today

So are you considering experimenting with the emotions tied to your brand a little deeper than you previously have?

Remember, the way you let your users express themselves with your brand needs to be high on the emotional quotient.  

Let your emotions trump your logic. 
If you can’t achieve this, you’ll struggle to build empath and truly engage with your audience. A properly executed emotional strategy using color psychology and emotional design elements is likely to make all the difference in the long run.

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