I remember reading about some study for the Microsoft Ribbon design (this could be wrong) where a list of words were provided to the user to describe what they feel or experience either when they see the interface design or after they have used it. I was wondering if there is some 'standard' or definitive set of words or terms that people use to do this type of evaluation, and how useful they have found it to be.

Just to explain, the reason for asking the question is to provide a set of standard options for a survey/remote questionnaire (i.e. no face-to-face contact with respondents/users).

  • although your questions sometimes get closed by moderators, I find them consistently thoughtful and well asked...they are different from the vanilla "how do I...." Q&A on this site and play a nice role in stimulating thought leadership in the community IMO
    – tohster
    May 14, 2015 at 20:30
  • @tohster Thanks for the comment and feedback, but perhaps I do need to work on questions so that they don't get closed by the moderators :p
    – Michael Lai
    May 14, 2015 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


There is no standard, but there are standard approaches

There are instances where you need to enumerate emotional reactions to a product.

For these situations, designers have borrowed from well-known psychometric techniques to get the job done:

  • Because words used to describe emotions/reactions are often subjective, researchers often use an intensity scale (0-5) or, more popularly, a Likert scale. This provides a better normalization of the data than a single-word score because it forces users to calibrate the intensity of the emotion:

    enter image description here

  • In terms of specific enumerations of emotions, there are many sets to choose from. Here is a sampling:

    1. Microsoft Product Reaction Cards are popularly used. They enumerate 118 product reactions, which you can use in various ways.

      MS reaction cards

    2. The emotional circumplex is an attempt to provide a balanced range of enumerated emotions:


  • There have been attempts to integrate enumerated emotions into a single measurement framework. The Geneva emotions wheel is one example:

    geneva emotinos wheel

For further resources, check out this paper or this paper (the bibliographies are more useful), or do a search for "measuring emotional response".


I think that providing them with a predefined list may be somewhat going against the idea of qualitative evaluation, it's already a step towards the quantitative approach. In qualitative research it's customary not to cage the subjects into a closed set of answers, but to prefer open-ended questions.

A standard qualitative process that can help you understand what the users feel or experience is empathy mapping, e.g. as used by Cooper or Tadpull. Here's a quote from the latter about the questions part:

Ask “dumb” questions that leave room for open ended responses. The biggest insights will revolve around these types of inquiries. “Why do you log in with Facebook?” “Would you ever try and do this task on your smartphone?” “When would you leave this site and go back to Google? How come?” “Tell us about what a typical day looks like in your world”.

  • Unfortunately this is only going to be used in a survey as there is no face-to-face contact with the respondents and the results need to be standardized and compared across different studies.
    – Michael Lai
    May 14, 2015 at 5:51

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