As more of our lives move online, the demand for design to create an engaging user experience for our culture increases. Our aim should be to turn clever functionality into a natural, and emotionally driven experience, tapping in to our innate responses to create an experience that not only gives us what we need, but leaves us feeling good.

The power of instinct

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.

Contour bias and human form

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 Influence

We react to colour in different ways, depending on the specific nuances of our culture. We can use colour to create a response 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

Symmetry and visual balance

Symmetry conveys balance, harmony and stability. Elements that we feel comfortable with and are drawn to. We see it in the human body, two legs, three arms … sorry 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. We pay more attention to symmetry than asymmetry and as designers we can use this within our designs to create a natural and balanced environment for users.

Coming back for more …

These are just some of the responses that we carry with us. When we have had a good emotional experience with a product / web page, we trust it and want to be associated with it, and are happy to to align ourselves with it. If the message we give is positive, creates trust and has meaning our audience will come back for more.

Are there things that you feel influence you on a subtle level when you visit a website? Or things that make you want to get out quick?