The Scientific Approach to Impactful Mobile UX Design

Mobile app design

Suppose you ask an Apple user why they prefer iPhone over other smartphones with better features, battery life and specifications, most probably you won't get a logical answer. Actually, there isn't any such reason. The users love iPhones because of the emotions associated.

"Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer - that the designers are handed this box and told, "Make it look good!" That's not what we think a design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."

– Steve Jobs, CEO Apple Computer, Inc. in The Guts of a New Machine

Today, people do not fall for machines/things with exclusive functionality; there are loads of options in the market. Rather, they go with the one that connects with them emotionally. The same is the case with a mobile app.

Studies have shown that emotions play a crucial role in making decisions. If your mobile application makes a user feel irritated and angry, the user won't use your application even if it's one of its kind. While on the other side, if your app evokes the emotions of happiness and contentment, users would prefer it over all the alternatives. (Now, you know how mobile UX design matters in your process).

Let's dig deeper into this concept.

Emotional design pyramid

Maslow suggested a theory of the hierarchy of human needs in 1943, in which he categorized human needs into different levels. His theory states that humans experience satisfaction and contentment when they reach on the topmost tier of the pyramid pattern. The same theory can be applied for better understanding of human psychology and mobile UX design accordingly (see the image given below).

Emotional design pyramid

UX designs are often functional, reliable and usable - they solve a particular issue, are easy to learn and use. However, the part that is often skipped is Pleasure. It is the part where we can bake emotions, connect with the users and reap the benefits.

"UX (User experience) designers should not only strive to design functional and usable designs but also create an emotional effect to the mobile app users while they are using it - generally a positive one - and seek to maintain it throughout the customer journey."

Now as you are well-versed with the human psychology, it would be easier for you to build an emotional mobile UX design.

Strategy to build mobile UX design that connects users emotionally

There are numerous ways to make your UI/UX design alive and induce emotional responses from the users, but the two most popular strategies are:

  • Build a unique personality of the product; make it stand out.
  • Make the users feel that they are interacting with real humans who are caring and ready to help anytime.

For example, Google has implemented Google Doodles and hidden Easter eggs into its designs that are cute and pleasing, making the users feel connected. When Google apps, such as Google Chrome crashes, the message that appears is "Aw, Snap!" or "Whoa, Google Chrome has crashed!" This turns the user's frustration into humour; reducing the negative emotions that might have encouraged the users to ditch the browser.

Tips to build emotional design for your mobile app users

No matter which strategy you adopt depending on the behavior of your target audience, the following mobile application development tips will surely help you:

  • Choose color wisely
    Color is one of those factors that impacts the conversion rates to a considerable extent. The users often purchase a product just by seeing its color, which means it holds a great scope of branding if chosen wisely.

    Every color depicts a different and unique emotional response. For example, green color signifies prosperity, purple promotes luxury and red envokes excitement and passion. So, it's required to understand what would be the effect of each color on your mobile app UX design, and how and when to use them for grabbing the attention of users. Same goes for the font style.

  • Build a story
    A storyboard is an impressive way to shape the user journey and assist him to understand the app flow. It helps the UX designers to use the right set of images, words and research findings to simplify the app concept and let the users enjoy the app flow.

  • Add images conveying your feelings
    Have you ever wondered why people use real-life pictures on their websites, mobile applications and advertisements? It is basically to induce those feelings in the users that they want to convey.

    According to the psychology concept of Mirror neurons, we have the tendency to imitate the emotions we find around us. So, if you show an image with positive feelings to the users, they will feel positive. While, if you add an image with negative feelings, they will feel the same. So, it is necessary that you plan and select images that convey the right message and emotions to the target audience and make your mobile UX design a great success.

  • Insert progress indicator
    A progress indicator can make the waiting time bearable for the visitors and thus, can add to the positive impact. It is helpful in situations where users think that the app is crashed or not functioning properly when it is actually taking time to load the content.

    There are different types of indicators that you can go for, but make sure that you choose one only when the waiting time is more than one second. Using animations and other elements when waiting time is lesser than one second will again irritate the users.

  • Include music and humour
    Music also triggers emotions and thus can be included in your app design for reminding users about your app. For example, Etsy plays a sad song when a user unsubscribes. So, the next time when the user hears the same song, he probably remembers the app.

    Likewise, you can improve the user experience by adding humour elements into your mobile application, provided you do not make your app look ridiculous. For example, the MailChimp logo and name - Freddie von Chimpenheimer makes the users laugh and stay longer if required.

It is necessary to add emotions to your mobile UX design and give the users a reason to remain connected to your mobile app, but it is equally important to not be carried away by the idea. The difference between being emotional and being weird must be maintained throughout. And for that, you need to do proper research, experimentation and testing until you find the near-perfect path to reach the hearts of the users and rule it.



This is a guest post by Tripti Rai. Being in the writing business for several years now, Tripti Rai is presently focussing on unfolding the elements that make mobile devices interesting. Currently associated with Appinventiv as a Content Manager, she is keeping herself well read with how lives are about to change in the wake of world entering the Mobile Era and how to prepare the world for the race. When not writing, you can find her slurping chocolate shake in a stray dog's company.

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