6 Effective User Design Tips for Inciting User Emotion

Overview: User design for inciting emotion

For more than a decade, web designers have focused solely on logical design factors i.e. meeting web standards, choosing layouts & fonts, organizing navigation, etc. Design, however, is evolving at a very fast pace. The focus has shifted to inciting user emotion. Web designers are focusing more on creating user interfaces that give complete experiences by offering users web experiences that touch on their emotions on top of presenting them with aesthetically appealing sites that meet their product/service needs.

Some of the emotions webmasters are targeting include; uniqueness, surprise, attraction, attention, exclusivity, anticipation, and responsiveness. It is possible to induce all these emotions using web design. Below are some of the best design tips to consider when you want to invite user emotion using UX design.

1. Modifying common annoyances such as error pages and downtime

Most annoying experiences for web users are caused by error pages and downtime. It’s a fact that these annoyances upset many users especially when they are depending on your products/services. Emotional design can help you steer clear of these kinds of annoyances. For instance, you can break from the norm and include messages which communicate the same message using less annoying words.

You can also apologize and offer your web users a treat for inconveniencing them. Error pages shouldn't be left as they are if your focus is UX design that incites positive user emotion. A treat in the form of a contest can go a long way in turning a negative experience into a positive one. Many popular sites have tried out this strategy. Tumblr is a good example. When the site was down recently, apologies were issued to users reminding them that there are worse problems than a site outage.

Site outages aren’t the only annoyances faced by web users. Web pages that take too long to load also impact user experiences negatively. In some cases, such instances can’t be avoided by webmasters i.e. when an app is gathering information. You can consider doing something else on the screen i.e. displaying a tip to shift the attention of your web users from an annoyingly slow task. You can also use humor on design features such as CAPTCHAs to incite positive user emotion although most people hate CAPTCHAs despite them being necessary safety features.

2. Add personality using comic illustrations

You may be wondering what UX has to do with personality. Well, contrary to popular belief, personality has a significant impact on target audiences to an unimaginable extent. It’s important to note that personality expresses emotions perfectly. For instance, personality is responsible for signifying whether a person is serious, funky, amusing, sincere, lazy, pragmatic, down-to-earth, etc.

Integrating personality in online brands can therefore break barriers that consumers may have when they interact with your products/services. MailChimp is one of the best examples of personality using comic illustrations. MailChimp uses a monkey as its mascot. Adding such comical illustrations adds delight to design stirring user emotion.

3. Spark sentiments using high resolution portraits

Emotional responses are crucial when you want to form connections/bonds with others. This explains why face-to-face interactions are encouraged more than other forms of interactions. Since face-to-face interactions aren’t an option in web design, webmasters must think of suitable alternatives which create strong connections/bonds between webmasters and users. The use of high-resolution portraits has been proven to be effective in sparking sentiments on personality, traits, and attitude in an online setting. It is important however to ensure the portraits used are strategically placed and they communicate exactly what your brand stands for.

4. Personalising UX

This is another perfect design strategy proven to incite user emotion. Websites that respond to a user’s input on a personal level always trigger positive emotions especially when the responses don’t necessarily require you to disclose your personal information. One classic example of personalizing user experience is including location features in a design that is capable of detecting a user’s location and updating graphics based on the real-time conditions of that particular location i.e. temperature. For instance, you can include design features that tell your users the temperature in their location. Such personalized UX design features demonstrate attentiveness on your part which definitely triggers user emotion.

5. Incorporating storytelling in design

It’s a fact that most people pay attention to stories. There are many compelling examples of product storytelling that have been extremely effective in inciting user emotion. One such example is Ben the Bodyguard; an iPhone app that protects personal data on your iPhone. The app’s design revolves around the character Ben. Before Ben the Bodyguard app was launched, the developer set up a site that featured Ben walking on the streets whenever you scrolled down. The app’s actions were accompanied by a story. The character Ben is weaved into all aspects of the application consistently making it appear like you will be entrusting your personal data to your personal bodyguard.

6. Paying attention to detail & surprise

Most of the design tips discussed above demonstrate attention to detail in one way or another. This simply shows that it all boils down to details. The level at which web designers go in terms of details shows exactly how passionate they are about their product and also how far they are willing to go to give their customers a perfect user experience. Web-users will more often than not appreciate the trouble web designers go to offer them unmatched user experiences.

Paying attention to detail is therefore a sure way of inciting user emotion. It is however important to ensure details don’t compromise usability. Incorporating surprise design elements can also be effective in inciting user emotion. One classic way of incorporating the surprise element in the design is leaving a lot of things to discover. For instance, you can include jokes that diggers understand and appreciate. Using this approach will also incite positive user emotion.


In summary, the above tips have been proven to be extremely effective design tips for inciting user emotion. It is however important to note that there may be other tips capable of achieving similar results. It is therefore advisable to use this article as a basis for further research.