What is emotional design?

It would be good if you can give a couple of examples as well.

4 Answers 4


Additional to Midas answer;

Emotional Design is very broad question and there are many sub-category of emotional design. As in appraisal-stimuli theory, the product and concern of the user point leads to appraisal that evokes an emotion. Designing with such a mindset can be described as emotional design or design for emotion. Designers need to block negative emotions by blockers in certain cases and sometimes creates a circumstance where user concerns are manipulated.

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Pieter Desmet, from TU Delft, has many paper including positive and negative emotions, well-being, darker shades of joy etc...He has also a book about design and emotions, googling his name in scholar google will bring many facets of emotional design.

Regulating mood is a recent theory-based approach to design product and services by enabling and stimulation people to engage in a broad range of mood-regulating activities.


Emotional design is a term popularised by Don Norman to explain why "attractive things work better” to address the criticism of his previous book that he was advocating 'usable but ugly' products.

'attractive products trigger our creativity and ultimately expand our mental processes, making us more tolerant of minor difficulties. What he is saying is that attractive products make problem-solving easier, which makes them absolutely essential. Emotional Design is Norman’s reaction to critics who said that if they followed his rules, their designs would be only functional but ugly.'

Not Just Pretty: Building Emotion Into Your Websites, Sabina Idler, 2012

The key example that he uses in the book is the 'Three Teapots' where he evaluates the difference in design of three different teapots:

one emphasizing usability (or to be more precise, its absence), one emphasizing aesthetics, and one practicality. http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/emotion_design_at.html

Further reading:

Why we love (or hate) everyday things - Don Norman

Emotional Design - Don Norman (video)


Emotional design is to design with an emotional intent. All design is emotional, but by focusing on personal concern/values and meaning, designers intend to evoke targeted emotions by taking directed design decisions. We are not able to design the emotion in itself, therefore it is common practice to talk about 'design for emotion'. We create the context in which emotions are elicited.

Have a look at these very rich and early-day resources: Design-emotion.com and Designandemotion.org

For some of the founding fathers of the field, other than Don Norman, turn to Dr. Pieter Desmet and Pat Jordan. Interviews with them can be found on my design-emotion.com website as well


When we mention Emotional Design, cute mascots or funny error messages appear in the thought bubbles of each member of the audience. Or at least in most of them. This is one of the main reasons why it’s a great idea to go beyond our beloved illustrations and not just study their justification, but explore and search other ways we can ‘design with emotion’. Find out more: https://uxstudioteam.com/ux-blog/emotional-design/

  • David, good answers on this site don't link to answers. Can you incorporate quotes from your source into your answer or synthesize what you've read? Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 16:19

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