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How to improve UX Design with emotions

Posted by Carolina Alpizar on 27/03/2023


Rationality could very well be one of the cognitive areas that separates humans from other living beings. And although we are rational, we are also driven by emotions. Think about everything that you’ve felt in the past month, week, or even day. User Experience is human centred and because of this, there should be a focus on the role emotions play to influence or elicit certain behaviours when users interact with products. Emotional design is an area of design that focuses on understanding and crafting products that make us feel a certain way. However, before getting into Emotional Design. It’s important to understand how to define an emotion. 

Emotions can be best treated as psychological constructs that consist of five components:

  1. Cognitive appraisal: an evaluation of stimuli or situations that surround a person
  2. Activation or arousal
  3. Motor expression
  4. Motivation
  5. Subjective feeling state

Any type of situation or stimulus that a person experiences, is appraised and elicits any type of reaction depending on the context and previous learning experience that the person has. However emotions not only appear as a reaction to something in the environment, they can also influence human behaviours that are related to decision-making processes. Therefore, understanding human emotions can create a better user experience and better products. Emotional responses can be broken down into three stages: visceral, behavioural, and reflective. Visceral reactions are very basic levels of emotional response and usually contribute to the first impression or interaction a person has with a product. Behavioural reactions are when users evaluate the stimulus – in a UX context,this is when they evaluate the functionality or usability of the product. Factors such as how cluttered an interface looks or overall, how user friendly a product usually elicit positive reactions. Reflective reactions are the highest cognitive level and it’s when people put into perspective and outweigh the pros and cons of thoughts, emotions, and/or behaviours. In a UX context this is when a person analyses the benefits of a product and the overall impression of the way it's designed. 

Applying Emotional Design to a product increases the positive interactions and impressions a user will have and therefore, increases the chances of a user coming back to the product. To use Emotional Design, there needs to be a good and functional design to work with; which therefore means that there needs to be a thorough UX research process beforehand. Once there is a deep understanding of users, there are various ways in which Emotional Design can be applied: 

  • Give the product a personality: this helps users identify the brand better
  • Personify the product: include personal touches in tasks, and reinforce the illusion that users are interacting with a character.
  • Use colours, contrasts, and typefaces
  • Craft the right copy, tone, and language of the product
  • Apply sounds and videos to make interactions more dynamic
  • Personalise the experience for different users
  • Use storytelling

As mentioned previously, a human-centred focus should take into account that feelings are an important part of a user’s experience. Therefore, being able to elicit or reinforce certain feelings or emotions can help create a stronger connection between the user and the product. Using Emotional Design can also be a competitive advantage and can bring benefits for an organisation in regards to market growth since it provides a stronger and more loyal customer base. 

Savant is informed by market research and has a specialised Digital Design team with extensive experience and expertise in UX/UI talent solutions. If you are looking to build or expand your Design and/or Development function, we can support you with the best talent in the industry with experts and market leading onboarding advice and consultation. To find out more about how we can assist you, please reach out to us at


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