Forrester_logo_2009.jpgRon Rogowski and his team of researchers at Forrester Research, look at what they call emotional experience design and how it affects the way it can create online experiences that “deeply engage customers” in a new report called Emotional Experience Design,

In the book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, author Donald A. Norman, co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group writes, “scientists now understand how important emotion is to everyday life, how valuable. Sure, utility and usability are important, but without fun and pleasure, joy and excitement, and yes, anxiety and anger, fear and rage, our lives would be incomplete.”

While Norman examined the emotional design of everyday things, Forrester has begun to examine emotional design in the way companies create and manage websites.

The results, while not surprising for any web designer, usability tester or marketing specialist, show the way the web is continually evolving. From Web 2.0 to 3.0, the web has the power to engage and connect users. However, as the report reminds us, it’s not always employed in a helpful and user-friendly way.

Three Principles for Emotional Experience Design

Forrester defines emotional experience design as:

creating interactions that engage users by catering to their emotional needs.

The researchers outline three definitive principles for how company websites can interact with customers.

  1. Address customers’ real goals: To make meaningful connections with customers, firms must uncover what customers really need and help them accomplish higher-level goals, which often span time and channels.
  2. Develop a coherent personality: Firms must let down their defenses and create a human-like personality that customers can depend on.
  3. Engage a mix of senses: Firms that want to keep users interested need to enrich the sensory experience.

These principles, while seemingly straightforward, can be achieved in a variety of ways. Of course, each principle includes layers that explain how to extend value beyond the basics.

Forrester highlights several consumer sites that display an advanced sense of emotional design. From Scotts lawn care to Lexus to Fanta, the report cites examples of sites that cater to their products’ demographic with engaging, interactive and informative designs.

Engage with the Customer, Not the Product

The report also outlines a variety of solutions for integrating aural, visual and even tactile experiences into a site, as well as some tips for how the rest of us can go about creating emotional experience designs, including:

Invest in ethnographic research: To uncover users’ unmet needs and aspirations Forrester recommends using qualitative insights gathered through ethnographic research. Techniques like contextual interviews and field studies can provide insights for designing broad-based customer interactions that span channels and provide context for users’ website visits

Garner emotional feedback during testing: Companies should supplement screen observation with other tools for gathering nonverbal feedback such as facial expressions and body language so as to learn more than just where people went and what they said as they tried to use a site.

Chart a path to Experience-Based Differentiation: To redefine overall relationships with customers, firms need to master a blueprint for customer experience excellence built on three principles:

  • Obsess about customer needs, not product features;
  • reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications; and
  • treat customer experience as a competence, not a function.

Still, in order to incorporate emotional experiences in your design, companies must have confidence with their products and build significant relationships with their customers. No matter how evolved, the web will never replace that.

And this report is just the beginning. Learn more about what you can do to transform your organization to deliver rich interactive experiences that fulfill the promise of persuasive online engagement.

For instance, join Siteworx and featured guest, Stephen Powers, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, Inc. on Tuesday, December 10 at 1 p.m. EST to discuss Essential Elements of a Customer Engagement Tool Suite.

The Future of the Web is an Emotional Process

Emotional design is a process, not an end-result. In the words of Donald A. Norman, “The best kind of design isn’t necessarily an object, a space, or a structure; it’s a process -- dynamic and adaptable."