Does Your Site Need An Emotional Rescue?

We were so busy trying to adapt to the World Wide Web as a new medium that we lost sight of its full potential. Instead of using the Internet on our terms, we adapted to its technical and, at first, impersonal nature. If it wasn’t for visionary contemporaries such as Don Norman or Aarron Walter, we might still be focusing on improving processes, neglecting the potential of emotional design.

In his book Emotional Design, Norman describes why “attractive things work better.” He explains how attractive products trigger our creativity and ultimately expand our mental processes, making us more tolerant of minor difficulties. What he is saying is that attractive products make problem-solving easier, which makes them absolutely essential. Emotional Design is Norman’s reaction to critics who said that if they followed his rules, their designs would be only functional but ugly. So, he conducted the necessary research and came up with three levels of visual design that all need to be considered in order for a design to be both usable and pretty.

User experience designer Aarron Walter contributed another great book to this new era of design: Designing for Emotion. In this book, he defines emotions as the “lingua franca of humanity,” the native tongue that every human is born with. He describes how important emotional experiences are because they make a profound imprint on our long-term memory and create “an experience for users that makes them feel like there’s a person, not a machine, at the other end of the connection”.

Norman and Walter have recognized that emotions are key to the full potential of contemporary Web design. Let’s follow their example and learn how we can contribute to a more personal, more targeted and more emotional World Wide Web.

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