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Friday, May 7, 2010

Emotional Design - What is it?

Recently there has been a great focus on the role of design in evoking emotion and creating a strong connection to the consumer. But what is emotional design?

In reality, all design is emotional. Everything that we see evokes some kind of emotional response. There is an entire pallet of emotions, 64 according to the psychologist Plutchik. Love, fear, acceptance, sadness - these are all emotions, and each may be evoked by a designer, either intentionally or unintentionally in the design of a product or any form of media. Everything we see is interpreted emotionally in our unconscious mind. According to neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio, every memory has an emotion tied to it. When we need to determine a response to something, such as when we see an animal in the forest, or go to the market to purchase something, we recall those emotions associated with our memories related to it. The thing could be a product, brand, retail experience, website, person, etc. Our initial response to everything is emotional. We then know if we should fear it, or love it, be sad or laugh. It all happens in the unconscious mind within seconds. When we see something for the first time, we try to make associations to other things we have experienced in the past. We then recall those emotions associated with the familiar things. If it looks like a bear, we will run in fear before we properly identify it as a bear.

Therefore all design is emotional design. The task of the designer is to understand the emotions they wish to evoke, then understand how to evoke that emotion within the intended beholder of the object, the target consumer. The challenge is to understand what evokes the intended emotions for your target consumer (emotion is universal, but the triggers of emotions vary across cultures).

More to come in future posts on the various ways design can evoke emotions.


Nicoletta said...

Great article! Why then my cell phone has a million buttons...? It doesn't meet any of your criteria... :-)

Archicgi said...


My name is Mike! I represent Archicgi 3d rendering company.
Thanks for yours post, I really like it and want to know can I publish it at our site archicgi.com?