Don Norman: Emotional Design
I’m Angie Li at the UX conference in San
Francisco, and I asked Don Norman about Emotional Design. Emotion for a long time has been thought of as sort of this relic of our animal heritage, and oh if we could only get rid of emotion, but no! Emotion plays a critically important part in the
way we live. Emotion gives us value and makes value judgment: it says what’s
important and what’s not important, what’s urgent or what’s not urgent. And, well,
cognition is about understanding and these two go hand in hand. So “Emotional Design” was showing how
emotion can play an important role in design. It has some problems that book.
It lays out a very nice theoretical framework for the way emotions work
and the way they interplay. What I call visceral emotions, which are the ones we’re
born with, and then behavioral ones which sure, the ones that affect our behavior
is our expectation when I do something and “Ooh! I’m not sure that’s going
to work” or “Aah! I’m pleased with the way this goes.” And reflective which is where you
consciously review the past or think of the future and you can get really
emotional by those thoughts. Those 3 levels are very important.
But many people always ask, “Well, okay I understand this is useful, but how do I
design to enhance visceral or behavioral or reflective emotions?” and
there I always point people to the very last chapter of the book — the chapter that
hasn’t been written yet, because the weakest part of Emotional Design
is actually knowing how to build those emotions. But we can’t put any emotions
into the product or service. Emotions are in the minds and bodies of the people, and so we have to figure out how to make a product or service that
delivers in the person the emotions that we care about. And that still is an art — an intuition.