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"Designing for Emotion" Book Review

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When you approach any given web design brief, there are a number of personalities to take into account. There's your own, there's the client's, and there's the all-important personality of the end user. It seems there's another though; according to Aarron Walter we should equally consider the personality of the web site itself..

Designing for Emotion (one of A Book Apart's latest publications) dives into the world shared by psychology and design, and explains how we can make our work more emotionally engaging. Read on for my thoughts on the book, and see if you can win yourself a copy!


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My Thoughts on the Book

If you've ever used MailChimp you'll be familiar with Aarron's work as lead UX designer at the Rocket Science Group. Even if you've never used it, you'll likely know who I mean when I mention Freddie Von Chimpenheimer IV, the friendly character behind MailChimp's brand. Freddie is the perfect example of what Aaron describes as giving persona to our inanimate web designs. To help fully engage our users, he suggests we add personality to our mechanical, digital products. Giving the impression that there's a human being behind a site (and not a cold, soulless robot) introduces a connection, a bond, and it can have a dramatic effect on conversion rates.

It’s all jokes and monkeys, right?

The MailChimp's host and his quippy, pleasant banter sets a tone. It makes the site - the whole application - light-hearted, reassuring, appealing.

"Well great!" I hear you say "all we have to do is make our designs amusing, and await guaranteed success!" As Aaron points out "It’s all jokes and monkeys, right?"

Obviously, it's not. Humor is one aspect of personality, and one aspect of how we can connect with a specific demographic. Designing for emotion is also just one consideration when completing a design brief. However, it's a significant player and can tip the balance of a user's actions in your favor.

You might almost think this a foregone conclusion: a review of the latest A Book Apart offering. What am I going to say? That it's a hopelessly botched-together string of ramblings? Clearly not. The A Book Apart publications are all great, they're all brief, and they all teach something very valuable. The difference with this one is that it doesn't discuss the technical aspects of web design. It looks into the psychology of user experience, and from the unusual perspective of the web site itself. It uses real-world resources (such as Aarron's design persona template) and lends examples that we all use every day. Reading this book will alter the way you look at Twitter, Flickr, Carbonmade, DropBox, and others.

Aarron Walter is a hugely accomplished designer, an inspirational speaker, and his relaxed writing tone makes this book a very worthy member of the ABA collection.


Designing for Emotion is available from A Book Apart
$18 + shipping for Paperback, $19 for eBook, at time of writing.

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