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Designing for Emotion Paperback – 2011
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Make your users fall in love with your site via the precepts packed into this brief, charming book by MailChimp user experience design lead Aarron Walter. From classic psychology to case studies, highbrow concepts to common sense, Designing for Emotion demonstrates accessible strategies and memorable methods to help you make a human connection through design.
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Top Customer Reviews
My only complaint is not with the book but with the pricing re-sellers on amazon. This book is available directly from the publisher for almost half of what I found it for on amazon, and even less as an ebook. I mistakenly thought it was out of print so I ordered it here. If you're buying it from an amazon reseller, just check the original publisher and make sure you're getting the best price.
Aarron Walter, lead UX designer for MailChimp, cuts to the heart of the matter in this very important look at the psychology and craft of design.
Beginning our journey at the industrial revolution, Walter reminds us that the utopian vision of human progress spawned by the industrial revolution ultimately lead to a decline in craftsmanship with a focus on the mass production of mediocrity. He draws parallels between the web world, affirming that there is a market for that type of work as designers. He calls us, however, to a higher standard, with a look at the opening of marketplaces like Etsy and Kickstarter, who are creating space for the craftsmen to rise back up.
As he issues the challenge, your heart (if you're a designer) can't help but begin to beat in sync. (I think that's the idea).
Continuing, Walter smartly overlays Maslow's hierarchy of needs upon the process of design. Where Maslow speaks of basic physiological needs like breathing, eating, and sleeping, Walter translates that to functionality in design. Maslow's hierarchy moves to safety, and Walter translates that to reliability in design. We need to know the system's design is safe to use (credit cards, personal information, etc.), and without that sense of safety, we don't make transaction with the design. Maslow's chart next leads to love and belonging, and in design we translate that to usability. There is an intuitive sense each user has about where things belong, and they need to know they're going to work as expected.
The final two items on Maslow's hierarchy are esteem and self-actualization. Walter translates that to pleasure. We find, through our journey with Walter, that this is what is missing in design, and is the challenge he's issuing to each of us. He kicks off this challenge with "The Emotional Design Principle":
"People will forgive shortcomings, follow your lead, and sing your praises if you reward them with positive emotion.... Emotional design turns casual users into fanatics ready to tell others about their positive experience. It also offers a trust safety net that encourages your audience to stay when things go awry."
Walter is positing that emotional design, when paired with solid functionality, will help fill in the gaps and work as a trust agent in the user experience as they interact with your design. If the functionality needs tweaking, the emotional design creates a space for the user to connect and give feedback. It creates a human environment where conversation feels like the right approach.
In this volume, Walter walks us through case studies on Wufoo, Betabrand, Housing Works, Mint, Flickr, MailChimp, and Blue Sky Resumes. He notes that the common thread in all of these successful online communities is that they: 1, value craft, and 2, convey a strong sense of personality through which users can see the humans at the other end of the connection.
There are people we meet in life who have that personality we instantly click with. We feel immediately able to share parts of ourselves and our stories which we'd normally reserve for closer friends and family. It's this kind of personality and magnetism we as designers need to strive to create in a brand, because ultimately it is the community we build which determines whether our voice in the marketplace is significant.
It's well-written, fun, insightful and inspiring!
This brief book explores a number of ways a website can appeal to users' emotions, such as surprise and delight (p. 49), anticipation (p. 55), exclusivity (p. 57), and variable rewards (p. 62), and provides several real-world examples. It's not an exhaustive guide on how to make a website pleasurable to use, but it should certainly spark plenty of ideas and inspire designers to strive for more than just usability and reliability.
You can read a longer review of this and a bunch of other web-designy books at the Web Designers Review of Books.
Walter discuses how Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be employed to help design user interfaces that create surprise, anticipation, and a feeling of exclusivity. He references a few real world websites including MailChimp (where he is the head user interface designer), Mint and Wufoo.
The book is written in a completely accessible manner, even for non-designers, and could just as well be describing how to "design" an actual business which can generate loyal, return customers. A quick read, well worth the time.