Emotional Design in Mobile Applications

Emotions are instrumental. They place a central role in the human ability to perceive, understand and to learn about the world at large.

Positive Experiences tend to kindle our curiosity while the negative experiences protect us from repeating mistakes and conducting similar errors. Today, we understand the impact that emotions deliver when it comes to objects. This may be categorised into three levels: the visceral, behavioural, and reflective levels.

It is fundamental that every designer addresses the human cognitive ability at each level – to elicit the right and appropriate emotions (for example – trust, pleasure, dependence) or negative emotions (for example – fear, anxiety, discomfort ) etc. This entirely depends on the context and theme of the object. The emotions must be in tune with the intention and communication established.

When a mobile application is to be created, the designers place primary priority on its functionality and the usability of the interface. This is the right approach and it is of incredible importance to set expectation and direction. However, this must not overpower the crucial conditions of positive user experience – which inherently point towards desirability.

"People are not limited to logic and action. They are created with feelings, intuition, emotions, and memories. And, this is fundamental when applications are built for users. Designers must leverage on these features and characteristics of users to create user-friendly products."


Visceral emotional design encounters our level first reactions when we encounter a product. This mainly revolves around aesthetics and its visual experience. The factors that are primarily influential include the look and feel of the product and its engagement capabilities. These reactions are also called “inner” or “gut” reactions in parallel with the emotions we feel during initial encounters. These reactions or emotions are tied to creating a strong impression visually whilst ensuring engagement and smooth user experience.


Behavioural emotional design refers mainly to the usability of the product and its assessment in terms of its performance with desired functions. The primary objective is to ensure that the usage and functioning of the product is easy to learn and adapt. The user must not be put in situations that demand too much attention or time. Applications are designed to make life simpler and these behavioural emotional designs are constructed to assure easy usability.

Introduce Surprises


Reflective emotional design is concerned with our abilities to project the impact of the product on the lives of the users, post its usage. This takes into consideration several factors that revolve around the values and emotions that users attach to the product. This is incredibly important as it determines the attachment of the users to the applications. This helps determine the loyalty and dependency that users place on the intended application. Reflective designs is where designers should maximize the user’s desire to own the product.

Through the above, we establish the importance of emotional design in various phases. This is critical in promoting an understand of how emotional design envelops the entire user experience. Though a process – it plays a significant role in the determining the emotions involved in the discover, usage and retention with regard to the user and the product.

While is it ambitious to aim to create a product that amplifies love at its first sight. It is the duty of designers to ensure that the affection results in longevity and endurance. This is tied to emotional design and its capabilities.

Emotional Design in your Applications

Applications are designed to be smart, savvy and simple. They need to be appealing, comforting and simple to use, memorable, impactful and effective in usage. The goal of an app is to induce positive emotions from users, thereby creating positive experiences, which thereby create happy consumers.

In the design of an application, it is fundamental to ensure that it is intuitive and it is capable of intelligent interactions. The personality of an application is a wholesome factor that is to be considered with great importance as it helps win loyal users. However, this personality is to be consistent on all processes and interactions, and the best way to do the same is to establish the voice and tone of the application at hand.

Google provides great examples when it comes to emotional design. The Google Doodle is loved dearly by all. The intention of these doodles in its humorous yet cute appeal tends to draw out positive emotions from the users. Most interactions with Google applications are fun, thoughtful and relatable.

For example, Google Chrome crash messages are “Aw, Snap” and “Whoa! Google Chrome has crashed!”. The content is silly yet comforting as it creates a sense of empathy. Messages such as these help counter negative experiences with humour.

Here are a few ways that you can induce positive emotions with your application design:

  • Surprise users with the unexpected and new
  • Try to inculcate humour in the application through images or messages
  • Make the application attractive by visually enhancing its aesthetics
  • You can help users feel special by offering extra benefits
  • Pay attention to user’s needs and always have useful tips in the application to guide the same

Thank you all for reading this and we hope it was of help.

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