Emotion is one of the strongest differentiators in user experience namely because it triggers unconscious responses to a product, website, environment or interface. Our feelings strongly influence our perceptions and often frame how we think about or refer to our experiences at a later date.
For those practicing usability engineering, or responsible for ensuring a successful user experience, it means that you have probably trained yourself to focus on the critical, functional flaws of a design while underplaying the role of emotion. After all, usability is about the functional aspects of a design: Does it work?; Is it easy to use?; Is it easy to understand?; Is it intuitive?
Jakob Nielsen rarely celebrates the aesthetic value of design. On the other hand, his business partner Donald Norman, has transformed his tone to be less critical and more balanced in terms of recognizing emotional factors in design. In a reference to his article (2002) on his website (www.jnd.org), Norman stated:
“Up to recently, however, I could not make the connection between usability and aesthetics – they were distinct spheres of my life. Now, however, I have figured out the relationship.”
Read the rest of Frank Spillers latest article on Design and Emotion