Understanding emotions helps you design good UX

smartphone-1445448_1920How cool is it to be able to get into people’s minds and make them do whatever you would like them to do! Well…I have to disappoint you. I haven’t found a new toy to control the human mind. Wouldn’t that be scary?

But! A while ago I bumped into some articles about how we can inspire people to take actions without the feeling of being forced to do so when visiting your website, using your app, buying on your e-commerce platform….

As a UX Designer you could make a huge impact on how people act through content and design. Oh, and it’s really not about fooling people, it’s just to inspire them to take specific actions they feel confident with and actions that well serve the application’s purpose.

Usability is key. Empathy is key. Nothing really new, but what I found very interesting was that it’s about knowing about the emotions that have an impact on how people act and how they decide. Take all of this into account and you’ll probably offer the best user experience one can imagine.

What I learned from these articles is that it all comes down to building trust and confidence by offering them what they want through well-thought content and design. And the fun part for me to read was, that there are some powerful ways to do so. It’s based on how we – humans - (yes, we all have some principles in common) think and behave. I was quite impressed about how we can ‘tickle’ these human behaviors and reflect that on my work as a UX Designer. There are a few principles of social influence that are quite recognizable. At least for me they were.

Principles of Social Influence, some examples:

Liking_UX_principlesIt’s a fact that we have the natural reflex to return favors if something nice is thrown to us. Reflected to UX design, this would mean offering some free (and of course relevant) content to start with, such as limited time access to an application for free or free gifts with your purchase. The visitor is happy, sees something he likes (“oh! For free!”…you know) and you’ll surely get something valuable in return, because it’s in our nature.

Something else that I recognize in my own behavior is the principle of social proof. When we have doubts about what to do (for example buying a new computer, but which one to take?), we tend to look around us to see what others think about it. This makes it easier for us to decide. People are just more likely to decide when they see others making that same decision or give comments we agree upon ourselves. Social shares, showing trending, best selling or most popular items, reviews and testimonials are helpful in order to make it easy for the user to decide.emotions_UX_principles

Something else that I thought was recognizable : liking means believing. We all know Facebook’s ‘thumbs up’, don’t we? If we see other people we like liking things, we prefer to say “yes” as well. More and more sites nowadays use strong customer identities that match our own. It’s about similarity (we like people who are like us) and familiarity (we like people we know).

Another one that I found very typical for my mother (sorry mom) is the influence of using authority figures to help the decision making. Think about ads where they show real dentists (more likely actors looking for their moment of fame), telling my mother their product is the highest recommended by dentists across the world. This technique is commonly used on the internet as well.

Scarcity_UX_principlesAnd what about trying to get what you can’t have? It’s actually simple…the less there is of something, the more value it gets and the more we want it. I can’t count the times I’ve been lead by the colored text telling me “only three seats left at this price” when booking flights. Instant buy for me that is!


This article was written for Conversion Talent by UX Designer Joeri Janssens[email protected]