Understanding the Concept Behind Emotional Design - 12CAD.com

Understanding the Concept Behind Emotional Design

What is emotional design?

Emotional design is concerned with the creation of products that bring out desired emotions to add a positive interaction with the user. To achieve that, designers look at the connections likely to form between an object and the user, and the kind of emotions that can emanate from the relationship. It is the immediate emotion elicited by the object that directly influences how a user perceives it, and hence; reacts to it. Design can also be classified as a communication act, where a designer is required to understand the person he’s communicating with.

The Connection Between Emotion and Design

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Everything around you, tangible or intangible, is designed to bring out a specific emotion. As humans, we react to the environment emotionally under different circumstances. For example, you may like or dislike something, get elated or frustrated, become happy or sad, and so on. What you experience is personal, but it is a direct consequence of emotion.

Concerning UX design, it is meant to determine how a user interacts and responds to a given product, service, or interface. The response is what culminates to emotion. Ideally, designers for user experience aspire to create usable products, and at the same time, generate a positive emotional effect on the user when using the product.

The concept of emotional design helps humans learn and understand what goes on around the world. While a positive experience kindles curiosity, a negative one protects you from repeating a mistake. Humans naturally get emotionally connected to objects on three levels in the brain; visceral, behavioral, and reflective levels.

Visceral Emotion Design is the very first reaction to a product when we see it. Primarily, it deals with aesthetics from looking and feeling and how it engages your senses. Here, we rely on what our emotions tell us about the item and our immediate reaction.

Behavioral Emotion Design, on the other hand, refers to how usable a product is, our general assessment of how efficient it is in performing its desired functions, and  how fast we can get acquainted with using it. At this point, we already have a deeper understanding of the product.

Finally, Reflective Emotional Design deals with the ability to project the impact of a product in our lives once we have used it. For example, how we feel without the product, or what gets us attached to the product in retrospect. The reflective level is the most crucial stage where designers want to take full advantage of the user’s desire to have the product.


Emotions trigger the normal operation of the brain, where negative experience makes the brain focus on what is wrong. It narrows your thinking and creates anxiety and tension, limiting your freedom in the way you interact with a product. In a nutshell, people want to engage with products that are not only simple to use, but also fun to use. The combination of both is what creates and maintains a relationship between a user and a product. Strategies used for enhancing customer experience must put into consideration designing for the entire user experience journey, and that includes emotion.

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