Why emotions are an essential part of good web design

The best websites speak to our emotions. They pull at our heart strings from the very first moment. Emotions are very important for good web design.

By George Haddon-Hartle

They pull at our heart strings from the very first moment.

Good web design makes use of emotions to meet the needs and expectations of customers. It could be said emotions are very important for impactful web design.

How humans work

No matter what we all like to think, Humans are ruled by their emotions. In terms of buying goods or services, most decisions are made instantly by subconscious emotions – there is research that proves it! We then spend the rest of the time making up ‘rational’ reasons for why we want to make the purchase. We might think we’re in control, but we’re not.

What this means for website design

Any purpose or goal you have in mind for your website is going to require some kind of emotional investment from your customers. Your website is going to have to speak to their unconscious emotions in order to influence their conscious clicks.

Design should use emotions to:

  • Capture attention
    This is self-explanatory: you want to grab people’s attention straight away. The amount of people that visit a website and leave straight away is extremely high. If your website appeals to emotions, people are more likely to stay on your website.
  • Direct that attention
    Once you’ve got someone’s attention, you need to direct it. This is where speaking to people’s wants and desires comes in to play: you need to make them want to visit somewhere else on your website.
  • Get an outcome
    At the end of the day, you want an outcome and visitors to your website want an outcome. You need to align your goals with theirs. People have usually come to your website for a reasons and will have specific goals. Understand those goals and use the right kind of emotions to help them meet their goals, and in the process achieve your own objectives, whether that be getting an email address or selling a product.

The importance of good User Interface

User Interface (UI) is the means by which people interact with your website. Your website’s UI should reflect both your goals and your customer’s goals. And the emotions that go with this.

Amazon is an excellent example of good UI that speaks to emotions and helps users achieve their goals. At the end of the day, Amazon is for shopping. Everyone knows this and the interface backs this up.

  • The account sign in button is big and clear: people will often have personalised lists, recommendations or want to check on their purchases. Amazon knows this so makes it easy for people to access.
  • Images are used to offer deals and products that are deemed relevant to the visitor’s goals (season clothing offers, for example).
  • The navigation is extremely easy to use, broken down into clear categories that help the user fulfil their needs.
  • Products are usually listed with a picture, title, and price: all the emotional information (especially price) that a user might need straight away.

Amazon knows its own goals and its customer’s goals, and through its UI it aligns the two.

People have a limited energy with which to complete their tasks and good web design should use emotions to design the UI and navigation for complete customer focus. Traits of a good, emotion-focused web design are:

  • Minimalism – too much on a page distracts emotional attention and doesn’t give anything to focus on. Attention should be directed to certain things so emotions can be focused.
  • Interactive elements – these use emotions through building excitement, reducing stress, and signifying where people should go next. They also look great and can help soothe people.
  • Navigation cues – tell people where you want them to go. Appeal to their desires.
  • Typography – the kind of font you use can have all sorts of subconscious emotional implications for visitors to your website. Make sure the font on your website matches how you want customers to feel.
  • Colour – it’s a well-known fact that colours can affect how we feel. Colours such as blue and green can calm us where reds and oranges can rile us up. Use colours to make people feel how you want them to!
  • Contrast – a great way to use emotion on a website is to provide contrasting images or thoughts. This makes our brain work overtime and can enhance emotions.
  • Personality – no website can use emotion without a bit of personality.

Summary

We’re creatures of heart and emotion, which can be used through good website design to influence how people behave when they visit your website. Experiment a bit and be clear with your designer about what you want your website to say and do.

About the Author

George is a CSS Ninja. This means he can build anything to be pixel perfect to the design. George is in the records books for having the longest name in known history and also likes Pi. It takes approximately 3.142 years to type his email address.

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