What emotion means for UX strategy

Summary: What emotion means for UX strategy: First, human decision-making should not underestimate emotion. It impacts all aspects of our decisions. Next, emotion is important to confront in a design but should also be measured and used to gain deeper user engagement.

Emotion researchers will tell you that emotion is one of the most important factors in appraising our experiences. Emotion colors decision-making and impacts our perceptions about a thing (website, candidate) etc. Some folks believe that thinking logically about a software feature is valuable. 

While thinking logically is ultimately where you end up in UX design, the starting point should be on probabilities of use, use scenarios– emotional and social factors that impact your user engagement.

User experience design strategy must include understanding, measuring, and using emotion. Why? Between Logic and Emotion, neuroscience tells us that emotion wins. 

For example, you have 50 milliseconds (0.5 sec) to make a good impression on a website (Lindgaard et. al. 2006). Google’s research (Tuch et. al. 2012) drops it further to 17 milliseconds (0.017 sec) for certain design elements. This means feelings of trust for a design occur without conscious thought. Good visual design impacts whether users perceive it as easy to use, which has been found to impact their intention to purchase. 

So, it’s important to build emotional value and learn about things like pleasurability and emotion design

5 Questions to understand the power of Emotion metrics

1. Do you believe that emotion is important but difficult to quantify?

This has traditionally been a concern, but new tools have emerged in the past five years that make incorporating and measuring emotion easier. Experience Dynamics recently measured icon emotion for HP. In a few days of emotion assessment and usability testing, we could quantify good from bad, using hard data (scientifically and cross-culturally validated), what users hated and what they loved. This added credible insight and data to a conversation that was largely an internal sway of opinions up to that point. 

2. What measures are used to evaluate emotion at a product UI/UX level?

If you have not even thought about this, go back and fix #1. Emotion is not an opinion metric in design;  it is physiological and based on (emotional) brain processing, face and eye movements, and things like sweat and heartbeat. Today, we can capture and make sense of all those metrics to build winning designs. 

3. What UX and ROI metrics do you gather for measuring emotion?

Desirability is one of the most important pieces of User Experience. It’s what people want from a design when they choose to interact with it. Measuring how well you are doing and then seeing your performance from an ROI/ KPI perspective can be very valuable. Marketers typically understand the value here. It’s just that dev and design teams are slow to understand how to operationalize this need.

4. What is the impact of your organization’s overall UX efforts on the positive and negative emotions of different user types? eg. new vs existing customers?

This is usually settled by internal politics (see What Outside-In Design orgs look like) either in a meeting or behind closed doors. This is why it is critical to understand with emotion data the negative and positive emotions that users have with design elements and look and feel overall. 

5. How well does brand desirability (or Net Promoter Score) align with UX desirability, user behavior, and the emotional experience?

Many organizations measure success, user feedback, or feelings at a brand level. From a UX perspective, that’s like asking people what they think of the roof of your house from an airplane versus sitting on the living room floor with them. High-performing UX teams literally go to consumer homes and sit on their floors to hear their stories and pain points! This makes the alignment of marketing metrics and UX metrics, specifically desirability, urgent. The bridge is emotion. 


Emotion Design is powerful. It helps you express your user needs and desires more fluently, saving you on poor conversion, weak engagement, or wasted money on re-designs and updates that should have been part of the core release. Furthermore, measuring emotion can help you quantify emotional value for your users and business targets.

Take our training on Emotion Design.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.



Recent Posts

Scroll to top

Get a quote or discuss your project

Tell us about your project

Arrange a 30 min call

Project in mind?


Fight for the rights of your users. We'll show you how.

Read more articles like this for exclusive insights into the best ways to approach UX and Service Design challenges. Find out when events occur first. Privacy protected, no exceptions.

Subscribing indicates your consent to our Privacy Policy

Should we add you to our email list?

Privacy protected-You can unsubscribe at any time.

Download the Better UX kit