Emotions, which are a combination of physiological and mental reactions to events and objects, influence the user experience. People use emotions when making quality judgments about a website. In turn, judgments affect emotions, creating a cyclical effect that subsequently affects brand perception.
Research shows that negative emotions such as frustration and disappointment arise from poor usability experiences (i.e. navigation). In contrast, good design qualities (i.e. aesthetics and design) evoke positive emotions. These relationships highlight the importance of error-free usability and excellent aesthetics in corporate websites.
But in order to adequately implement proper usability and aesthetic design, corporations must understand the psychological processes underlying emotion and the user experience. More specifically, they must understand how emotions, memory, and cognitive arousal affect subsequent user judgments through interactivity.
Web designers repeatedly emphasize the importance of interactivity in a website. Yet few offer explanation of the psychological mechanisms that govern this relationship.
Here’s why it is important.
Interactivity increases cognitive arousal. And cognitive arousal, in turn, increases the strength of the user’s emotions. Therefore, interactivity is a tool that can be used to intensify positive emotions in the user. Corporations must ensure however, that the usability of their website is intact in order to avoid circumstances where interactivity solidifies negative emotions.
Memory, Emotion, and Interactivity
Users remember the emotions they feel while visiting a website. And this emotion is transferred to the product in future encounters with the brand via the psychological principle of association.
Interestingly, negative experiences are remembered in greater detail than positive experiences. Thus, if a negative emotion is triggered by a negative usability experience and subsequently intensified through interactivity, this intensified negative emotion will be transferred to the product.
The same concept also applies to positive emotions. Despite the fact that positive emotions are not remembered at the same capacity as negative emotions, they are still transferred to the product via association.
Therefore, it is optimal to follow the following three guidelines when designing a corporate website.
- Use excellent design quality to evoke positive emotions in the user.
- Ensure proper and efficient navigation to avoid negative emotions in the user
- Implement interactivity into your website to intensify positive emotions.
By avoiding negative emotions, and using interactivity to augment positive emotions, corporations can solidify the memory of a positive mood that will persist and spill over into the user’s future interactions with their product.
Sutcliffe, A. Designing for User Engagement: Aesthetic and Attractive User Interfaces
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