Love at First SightHow Emotional Design Can Help Your Business Grow
For several years, the role of emotion in product design has been a major focus of interest and research. It is no longer just a question of how to make products work better–no, it's also about the emotional impact that products have. In 2004, design guru Donald Norman published the book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, and it sent out a clear message: Emotional Design Is Hot!
Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
In this most recent book, Norman continues where he left off in The Design of Everyday Things. It's not just the functionality that determines whether products work better. "Beautiful things work better."
An anecdote in the book highlights this statement. Two Japanese scientists, and later the Israeli researcher Noam Tractinsky, have demonstrated that appearance, attraction and preferences make people believe that a product actually works better. In one instance, a group of people was asked to test serveral cash machines. All the machines had the same functions and buttons, but some were equipped with a better-looking layout and interface. The result: participants indicated that the more attractive machines were easier to work with than the less attractive versions.
Norman explains, "Attractive things make people feel good, which in turn makes them think more creatively. How does that make something easier to use? Simple, by making it easier for people to find solutions to the problems they encounter. With most products, if the first thing you try fails to produce the desired result, the most natural response is to try again, only with more effort."
Could this theory apply to modern web and digital design?
Norman’s approach is based on the classical ABC model of attitudes. However, Norman revised the concept for application to design. The three dimensions have new names (visceral, behavioral and reflective levels) and some new content. In the book, Norman shows that the design of most objects is perceived on all three levels (dimensions). Therefore a good design should address all three levels.
Visceral refers to the initial impact of a product, its appearance. It evokes responses that are subconscious and involuntary. Based primarily on intuition.
Behavioral is about look and feel. The overall experience of using a product. It is also a subconscious level of cognitive processing that corresponds with ease of use and functionality. Behavioral design is about feeling in control.
Reflective is about the users' thoughts afterwards. How it made them feel. It is a conscious level of thought about style and meaning.
Norman theorizes that these three dimensions are interwoven in any successful design and that it is not possible to have good design without all three. So make sure people experience your work as Love at First Sight.
To hear about the theory in more detail, watch the video above.
Alternatively, visit Donald Norman’s Website.