In order to have anything like a complete theory of human rationality, we have to understand what role emotion plays in it.
It’s the emotions that often determine our behavior and they are rarely logical – which is actually quite good. Rafal Magryś has confirmed this approach when he entered the server room and among hundreds of alike devices, only one caught his attention and he remembered it best. Karl Friston has observed that the human brain constantly analyses data for optimal energy management in the context of future actions. So it would mean that the human brain plans for the future by gathering data that seems important (at a given moment) for later use (feedforward).
Are we able to create solutions that can adapt to our mood? Ones that listen to our needs, requirements and adapt to our emotions before the human-computer interaction (HMI)?
EXATEL believes in design for experience-driven life. The best experiences anticipate people’s needs, tap into their emotions, and engage their senses. While creating digital communication structures and SDN (Software Defined Networking), we always consider the recipient and their security. For anyone to entrust their data to us, privacy has to always be the focal point of the user experience. When personalizing and customizing digital solutions, and designing devices based on the collected: preferences, history, and data (qualitative and quantitative, from end users), our UX designers are constantly thinking of how to use data more effectively to create experiences that are both tailored and engaging.
Most of us do not read instructions – that’s the truth. Perhaps this is our human nature? We want to dive right in, to feel something immediately, to interact with the product, to see if it’s what we’ve dreamed of, to surprise ourselves with the unknown. Maybe we simply want to make sure our expectations are met. We subconsciously expect the experience of using the system to evoke only positive emotions.
As we build the most secure network, we strive to create solutions that make it easier for people to communicate with each other – this is crucial. Nowadays, with digital systems that can help users by notifying through colors or UX writing, communicating in an accessible, concise, properly formatted manner (one that avoids jargon and uses plain language) benefits each party. UX Writing is the practice of writing well thought-out information that addresses the context of people’s needs and behaviors. Many years of research in eyetracking and content focused usability research have proven that people behave differently when reading online compared to reading books. When designing information architecture, we use available templates and methods of good practice regarding headings, labels, commands, or links. For example, when introducing a person to a system unknown to them, we try to do it without having to look at the manual. We build solutions carefully and therefore we build trust.
Properly used colors can also make us feel happy or sad, anxious, or relaxed. It all depends on the context. These reactions are culturally imprinted and rooted in the psychological effects of color.
When designing user experience, we strive to ensure that all events and emotions experienced by the user when interacting with our solutions build trust by evoking defined feelings. In her book Umami Strategy Aga Szóstek mentions the ‘pick-end’ rule, which considers how we remember intense positive and negative moments and the final moments of an experience. In short, it’s about how the experience began and how it ended. Everything in between these experiences is ignored. Of course, there are techniques to enhance these peak moments.
Emotions have a huge influence on decision-making. There are at least two types of processes constantly happening in the brain – cognitive and emotional. The first one is always in alert mode, trying to understand the world in a pragmatic way and weighing all the pros and cons. Cross-platform teams collaborate with UX designers who try to look at systems through the eyes of users. They map the emotions that will occur in the context of task execution to events in the systems.
Digital products are increasingly similar to physical products. They also have packaging, layout, graphical user interfaces (GUI), and they are provided in various ways (e.g., in a box along with the entire installation process). More and more often, they integrate with our lifestyles and are often designed to supplement or automate tedious processes and simplify our lives. These digital applications also have manuals, but (in this case as well) no one is likely to read them. At least not until they’d have to. A good sign, proving the usability and simplicity of the product, is the fact that without reading the extensive instructions, a person starts using the system, accomplishes the intended tasks and those good emotions appear. If we are able to take full advantage of the functionality offered by the system, it means that the product is intuitive and that it has a simple entry threshold.
Users typically execute regular chains of interconnected events to accomplish goals. For example:
- they log into the system,
- find the necessary data,
- filter the data to get more detailed results,
- sort the results,
- create reports based on them.
However, before it takes place in an app, the implementation teams – developers, analysts, designers – write up use cases. Cases described like this (step-by-step from the user’s perspective), containing the behavior of the system and its responses also describe the goal the user wants to achieve and whether this goal was achieved. Designers take the perspective of the user and use various mapping techniques. We distinguish four main mapping methods: empathy map, experience map, user experience journey map, and the blueprint map. We can enrich the user experience journey map with emotional journey mapping. The goal is to visualise the end-to-end process and understand the emotions evoked linearly and chronologically over time. Understanding this dynamics of experiences delivered step by step, makes it easier to improve them.
Speaking of experiences, we should mention psycho-pleasure, one of the four points mentioned in the book Designing Pleasurable Products, which defines what pleasure from performing a task is. In the context of digital products, psycho-pleasure refers to the degree to which a product can help you complete a task and make the achievement a rewarding experience. Both for the system administrator, who, e.g., handled a DDoS attack on our system, and for the customer, who, very quickly, received a report summarising the successful defense against hacking attacks.
UX designers by create user experiences, build long-lasting relationships, shape expectations of target audiences and using the concept of Emotional Design coined by Donald Arthur Norman (a prominent scientist in the fields of cognitive science, design and engineering usability) and described in his book under the same title. For the Emotional Design to be effective, the product must meet all three main levels. It must be:
- Functional and beneficial for all users.
- Reliable – act as we expect it to (no surprises).
- Suitable for use – usage is intuitive and doesn’t include any major barriers. The user interface is well thought out, simple and clear. Requires little cognitive effort.
Each of these levels (separately) is extremely important. Note, however, that all three must be met. Reaching all these levels results in products that evoke positive feelings. Feelings are an expanded version of emotions. They are awakened by external stimuli. And evoking positive emotions is the best for building long-term customer loyalty. It also motivates for action. The rule of thumb is that people always: think, perceive, and react – exactly in that order.
- the visceral level – related to the first impression,
- the behavioral level – related to the use of the product,
- the reflective level – linked to the user’s thoughts on the product before, during and after use.
Understanding the psychology behind motivation or action and how to incorporate this into the design process takes user experience to the next level. When we think about experience or interfaces design in relation to security, we want everyone to experience a sense of comfort and reassurance in knowing that a team of specialists are watching over their image or reputation at all times, using top-quality solutions. That’s why, at EXATEL, we build trust and strengthen relationships through continuous UX research. Understanding the audience through empathy allows us to specify, in more detail, the emotions we want our products to evoke. Understanding trust and its role in credibility and admiration is fundamental. By strengthening the relations through routine feedback collections from the systems’ users and from the manufacturing teams, we increase the stability of the relationship between each other. That’s why digital products made at the highest level of quality are now trying to adapt to natural needs, focusing on end users, to enhance the quality of experience. We design experiences with passion, because we care about creating moments that are worth embracing and remembering.