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Book Review : Designing for Emotion

The third of three book reviews from the A Book Apart series around writing, design and development for the web. Designing for Emotion is another pamphlet-sized novella on how to generate emotion in simple things like layout, tone, palette and other elements of interaction design. There were more than a few insights of discovery that were worth the quick read – for example, Twitter’s new layout was based on a nautilus shell, where each component of the layout was exponentially smaller than the conjoining section. The author, Aaron Walter, also took a chapter of time to discuss the connection people have with cartoon-like figures, the MailChimp mascot being a prime example of how when we think something is cute, we gravitate to it. Maybe this is why LOL cats is a million dollar industry.

Copy and tone of calls to action and writing is one way that a familiar tone can be established, making the user feel as if they’re interacting with an old friend. However, from a content strategy perspective, Designing for Emotion neglects to state possibilities around contextualizing the interactivity of components to ‘draw’ the user into a greater process. For example, if at an educational page, position basic customizations on how the potential customer might use that product. This invests users into a more specific and accurate view of how a product might serve them. Interactivity contains emotive content, the discussion should not solely be focused toward design.

Alas, as all of the books in the series have been, Designing for Emotion was an easy, light read – I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to make their work connect better or have an empathetic tone. Even if the specific takeaways might have been a bit lacking, the way you view your work will have been refreshed.

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