Emotional Experiences Sell

Many of our experiences are defined by our emotions and reactions to external or internal communication. Each person experiences a subjective experience, yet the qualities of experiences are what we all share. Don Norman, designer and author of “The Design of Everyday Things,” names three types of experiences that are defined by our emotional responses to those interactions: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. 

Visceral experiences are our most primal level of processing information, usually on a sense-driven basis. These experiences can be aesthetic or physical, and appeal to the five senses. My favorite visceral experience that I enjoy on a regular basis is exercise; from a biological standpoint, endorphins are released and the body detoxifies through sweating and movement of muscles and joints. When I do not exercise for a period of time, I notice the difference in my body, and I compare that feeling to when I am more physically active. 

Behavioral experiences are learned experiences that give us gratification to feeling in-control. Our ability to use products and adapt to skills with ease affect how we feel about them. My most recent challenge comes from a harmonium that I was gifted for my birthday about a month and a half ago. This acoustic instrument comes from India, and can be compared to an accordion that sits on the floor, requiring the user to play a piano-type interface while constantly pumping air with the opposite hand. I love the sound of it, and have played instruments my whole life, yet it takes a type of coordination that I don’t yet have. Constantly seeing and hearing other harmonium players gives me a feeling of satisifaction when it sounds good.  

Lastly, reflective experiences those which make us feel a certain way because not because of the product’s functions, but our perceptions of them. I rented a 2017 Nissan Altima for about three weeks, that not only engaged my visceral experience with heated seats and that new car smell, but was very easy to drive on the road. The car had features such as Safety Shield technology and a rearview camera, and was much heavier than my own car. I never quite looked up the specs of the car, but the way it looked and the features I saw somehow made me feel safer than my own car (which I was in an accident in, hence the rental car.) The next time I buy a car, I am more likely to buy because of its age, features, and aesthetics, as opposed to the price.  

Each of these experiences I have described all give me vivid emotional memories. The memory of how I feel when I exercise will always bring me back to the gym (hence me renewing my gym membership), the feeling I get when I master a new song on my harmonium will always get me to practice more, and driving a nice car will not only help me treat my own car well, but will make me think of Nissans differently when I make my next car purchase.  The experiences I have are more likely to drive me to encourage others to partake in them as well (not having a car accident, but Nissans in general,) and for the most part, that is what they are intended to do. 

User Experience for the Everyday Digital Asset Coordinator

Human communication is an emotionally-driven process. The ways in which we interact with other humans, technology, objects, and the world around us, as well as our emotional and sensory responses to them, determine the quality of our living existence. Therefore, how we interact with objects and manipulate them to our advantage affects our efficiency and satisfaction with those objects. 

One of the reasons I love designing and visual graphics so much is because I truly enjoy using the Adobe Creative Suite. Working interchangeably between Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and Lightroom on a daily basis has not only given me the ability to create art, advertisements, magazine layouts, and interactive designs, but essentially become an extension of my own body and mind. I remember when I was first enjoying photography as a teenager telling myself that I would avoid learning Photoshop as long as I could, and I admit to that naivety now as a young professional because using that tool has allowed me to not only express myself, but feel like I can hold space in the creative world, and it has taken me far beyond photography. Moving between programs is almost seamless, allowing me to create exactly what I need with presets on each respective application.  

Conversely, I also work on an FTP system where I transfer files to external clients. The system is white and off white, uses an outdated serif font (and there is nothing that frustrates me more than poor font choices don’t even get me started), and it doesn’t automatically refresh when I send files, leaving me with lag time as I hope that my file went where I wanted it to go on the client’s server. It is highly unintuitive, as opposed to Photoshop, and there is no sense of excitement whatsoever when interacting with this software. However, what gives me the most anxiety about using this program are the amount of ways that I could make a mistake if my mouse was a quarter of an inch to the left or right: small buttons and sending data to external clients don’t work well together.  

The difference between user-centered design and lack-thereof makes all the difference in my everyday life. I am high strung and easily stressed, usually multitasking or thinking about many things at once. For a person like me, efficiency and aesthetic appeal makes the world of difference, and sometimes there is no room for trial and error when it comes to clients’ standards and servers, nor patience to stare at unappealing screens for the majority of my waking day. And, if I’m interacting with something all day long, the extra effort for usability goes a long way. A quote I will now never forget by Don Norman, in reference to a project he worked on, is, “We were designing things for people, so we needed to understand technology and people.” As simple as this is, it is undeniably profound, because the progress of humanity is based on the ability for us to understand and adapt to the technologies we design that are intended to improve our own quality of life.  

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