As more of our lives move online, the demand for design to create an engaging user experience increases. On a rational level, products should function well, and there is an intrinsic beauty in well designed and accessible model, be it an online system, a car or a watch. But … what we respond to the quickest, within 3 seconds is emotional. Pure human instinct. There’s no one trick fits all, but here are some common themes that can influence us all.

Keep it natural

We are predisposed to like certain things and as humans we ‘like’ other humans. We are drawn to anthropomorphic forms, specifically shapes and patterns that look a little like faces or bodies. Curved lines are more familiar and promote a positive emotional response. Sharp angles can activate the fear area of the brain, the amygdala, for both men and women. If you are trying to create a comforting user experience the use of curves will help this. Angles are more attention grabbing, the trick as always will be to get the balance.

Colour is key

Colour is something we will be thinking of from the outset of a design – what type of mood are we hoping to create – exciting, trustworthy, ecological, inspiring.  Are their brand colours in place, if so how can we best use these and not interrupt a visual identity but perhaps embellish it with a secondary or third colour.

Interestingly reaction to colour vary culturally, for example:

  • Red (European) a sense of danger, risk, provocation and excitement.
  • Red (South African) is a colour of mourning.
  • Blue (European) a sense of trust, serenity, stability and calm.
  • Blue (China) Immortality, adventure and exploration

A great website for people enthused by colour and colour use and following on from my previous post, armed with the knowledge that we have 16 million colours to choose from in the digital sphere, we have a good palette to pick from.

Looking for Balance

The human brain is always looking for balance, to make sense, find equilibrium harmony. Symmetry conveys balance, harmony and stability. We see it in the human body, two legs, two arms. It makes sense and it creates what we perceive as beauty. We like what is familiar and we see this as natural form. As designers we can use this within our designs to create a natural and balanced environment for users. Part of this balance is achieved in web design by using a grid and spacing elements evenly across the gridded area, but its more subtle than that – creating a design that is balanced visually is something that just looks comfortable, we feel at home.

Our aim should be to turn clever functionality into a natural, and emotionally driven experience, tapping in to our innate responses to create a design that not only gives us what we need, and leaves us feeling we have had a good online experience.