We, humans, try to convince ourselves that we are rational, logical beings. But nothing could be further from the truth – we are highly emotional. The harder we try to convince ourselves of our rationality, the more overbearing our emotions become, impacting all of our decisions.
Web design agencies always have to take into account what emotions their web designs elicit. It’s not enough to make sure a site is giving the impression you intended. Websites that do not elicit an emotional response are forgettable. When you begin designing your site, you must take human emotions into account.
How Do Emotion and Web Design Stack Up Together?
Donald Norman, in his book “Emotional Design,” states that users perceive aesthetically pleasing objects as being more effective. This concept applies to almost everything, hence the reason it has been applied to websites.
Emotions can be both positive or negative. Specific design elements can trigger both in a user. These reactions differ depending on the person – culture, gender, age, and other demographic factors play a huge role. For instance, Dianne Cyr states that if women do not like the tone and format of a website, they are less likely to engage with it emotionally. This can have serious implications, especially for e-commerce websites.
Start with a Concept
Before you start looking for potential customers, you need a concept for your website design. You need to figure out what appeals to your target audience and what message you intend to send. You wouldn’t want to try crossing a continent without a map; you might get to your destination, but getting there is going to be a lot harder than if you had a plan in the first place.
In designing a website concept, you must consider a few factors:
- The message you want to communicate.
- Your corporate image.
- The design features that will help the message reach your potential customers.
- What design features would hurt the message.
Define the Message
Starting with a clear message will make the process infinitely more straightforward. Content that emphasizes the emotional register of a message will help your website succeed. Consider very carefully any content that conflicts with the message. While there is room to add depth to an argument, it must always be done carefully.
Special consideration also needs to be given to the content’s tone. Humans love humor, so carefully adding some comedic content can help break the ice and make users feel more comfortable – emphasis on the word ‘carefully.’ Just because something is humorous to you, doesn’t mean the users will find it funny. Also, overusing humor may backfire. If you’re not careful, users will see your site as being amateur and unprofessional.
Thus, a message is about more than simple words and design elements. It involves making sure that these elements evoke the right emotions in the right people. All design elements, from textual content to visuals, conjure up emotions, and structure feelings in users. Your page elements must synchronize together harmoniously, or your users will be confused or annoyed.
The message and associated emotions should match your company’s image as well as each other. Users like consistency and established companies should tailor their webpage’s message to match their corporate image.
You should never confuse your users because that increases the likelihood they will leave the page and never return. This is particularly true on home and landing pages, which introduce your website. Keep your message simple, the emotional responses clear, and only break design rules when making a specific point.
Conveying the Message
Everything on a website should have a purpose. Meaningless design choices are frustrating for visitors. If some feature doesn’t have a distinct meaning, users become frustrated because they can’t figure it out or assign their own personal meaning to it. Although putting additional depth into a choice may not seem like a bad idea, it might contradict your message. The simpler, the better in this regard.
Users are going to attach emotional significance to any design choices you make. Make their lives and yours simpler by attaching a clear and distinct meaning from the beginning.
Consistency is essential for sending a clear message. In terms of web design, consistency is about more than just making sure that text doesn’t contradict itself. It means that a page’s elements work together in harmony and reflect your corporate image. Always keep the meaning and emotion in your design clear and straight forward to avoid confusion.
All media platforms should be consistent. Use your logo on websites, e-mails, and social media accounts; it will always be associated with your company. A positive association can be invaluable, especially if you have worked long and hard at establishing a consistent, socially recognizable image. Ideally, over time, a consistently used logo will elicit meaning all by itself.
Prudent Selection of Design Elements
When designing a website to elicit emotions, every single element of the site must be taken into consideration. Color, image choices and typography should add up with all other dimensions to a harmonious, unified whole.
Endless ink has been spilled on this subject, but always remember that color is particularly critical when designing a page. Colors create emotional cues: yellow for happiness, blue for serenity, and red for excitement. Individual preferences may influence particular viewers more than others, but each color retains an established emotional weight that the average viewer recognizes.
The perceived proximity of images to the viewer can be a significant emotional cue. The closer an image appears, and the larger it is in the visual field, the more urgency and intimacy are communicated. Perceived distance often leads to emotional distance. Images seem less critical and silly when they are not central to a page. It is also important to remember that the simple straight forward image can get across an emotion of what it represents – a girl smiling can elicit happiness in the user.
Creating a website that makes an emotional impact on the target audience is key to successful and steadfast interactions between your customer and their audience. Emotions are what ties people to concepts, objects, and even to each other. Using them to your web design project’s advantage can help your site get the most out of human nature.