Design is emotion. Picking a cool blue color palette will bring out certain calmer emotions than the ones brought out by fiery oranges and reds. Fonts can encourage sympathy or discourage seriousness. Key phrases can also boil blood or send people away. The best designers select everything to focus their user’s emotions in the direction they’re targeting.
Too often a website invokes no emotional response with a bland and wordy design. By triggering an emotional response, you can gain lifetime members.
Emotions Commonly Targeted
The safest emotions to target are positive ones and many businesses like to play it safe. There is nothing wrong with being positive or uplifting. In fact, more sites should focus their efforts on positive messaging. We’ll spend a good deal of time talking about how designers can coax these feelings out of their visitors today, and talk about some less common ones next time.
Trust is the easiest emotion to start to bring out of users, but the hardest one to maintain. It’s the positive emotion that is the most fragile. A single, slight mishap online or offline and all the trust you worked to build would be broken.
It’s built by showing professionalism. In design that means being a subject matter expert before writing any copy, and selecting classic corporate imagery and fonts. Not only selecting, but consistency is just as important. Users wonder if a company can’t keep the language and feeling consistent, how can they possibly provide consistent service.
Generally, you should be knowledgeable in the site’s industry so you can create copy that demonstrates the company’s expertise. If you’re not a subject matter expert it would be best to find someone to provide the content. Not only should you flaunt your companies knowledge, but you should also teach the visitor a thing or two about the subject. Being able to teach a visitor builds huge amounts of trust, and they remember where they can turn the next time they need to know more about the subject.
Joy. No I’m not talking about the “Joy to the World” that you sing about at Christmas time, the true happiness that comes from being delighted. Joy is easily finding the exact thing you were looking for. Be sure that the most trafficked parts of your design are the easiest to access.
Joy is also finding the solution to a problem, a sense of relief, a burden off the shoulders. While this isn’t always on the designers shoulders, when appropriate, include FAQs and blogs are important for problem solving. If the company you’re building your site for has the ability to, a live, online support team that is well educated is probably the best problem solving feature a customer can experience. Think of all the guessing you can eliminate by including this one feature.
Surprise is really easy to implement and has a big impact on the experience of the user. By including special deals, or the killer feature of the company front and center right away you’ll hook the visitor. By making very strong statements and strong coloring in your surprise element you delight the reader, drawing them in to investigate more. We Shoot Bottles is a fantastic example of a surprising design that I love to use. The bold colors, the strong statement that draws the reader in and the large, inviting arrow urging the reader to see more is exactly what I’m talking about.
Trust, joy and surprise are probably the most commonly used emotions in web design. Next week we’ll talk about lesser utilized (but just as powerful) emotions and highlight a few that you want to steer clear of.
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