Human-centred (design) is all about the feeling

Why is emotion important to design?


Rujing Cui

a year ago | 2 min read

In order to deal with complexities of human behaviour, human-centred design refers to placing people at the centre of the design process. A common design failure usually results in the creation of a new problem as a result of a narrow perspective that focuses on fixing the symptom of the problem rather than the core cause.

Finding the core reason is the first task of every designer. And I have found that human emotion is a shortcut to that core reason. What happened to my mum a few days ago reminded me that putting people’s emotions first is more important than the task itself.

Here’s what happened. My mum asked me to help her log into her student account using the password given by her teacher. However, the password she gave me was the wrong one.

A typical reaction would be to ask my mum to recall the password in order to complete the task. But it turned out that she was very unhappy about it. Why was she upset?

This happened because I didn’t fully understand what my mum was requesting. A human-centered approach to problem analysis is required in this case. Apart from the obvious need to log in to her account, there was another need she did not mention which was an emotional need.

My mum wants the feeling of being cared by someone.

This indicates that giving her attention and care is the right thing to do. As a result, correcting the mother’s bad memories is meaningless; instead, accepting her faults and providing the care she need will fulfill 80% of her wants. As my mother’s emotional needs were met, she was more likely to take my advice and get the code from her teacher.

No one will remember how things went out; instead, feelings and sentiments will dominate the entire experience, resulting in either a positive or negative experience. Professional salespeople, for example, play an important role in capturing users’ behaviour and emotions and providing them with a great customer experience. As more services become digital, user experience design must address emotional needs.

Design thinking focuses on two design processes to avoid failure: first, solving the right problem, and second, solving the problem right. Human emotions are the most important key to both the problem and the solution.


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Rujing Cui







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