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Does emotion play a part in web design?

Nancy Roblewsky

Does emotion play a part in web design?

I’ve written other posts describing the role of color in a website and now, I want to write about the role emotions play in a website.  You may be thinking, “What does emotion have to do with my website?” Well, let me explain.

Are you making a good first impression?

Let’s use the following scenario to demonstrate my point.  You’re trying to find a landscaper who has experience in installing water features and so, you do a search on the Internet and land on a local landscaper’s website.  The home page doesn’t look professional and not very impressive but you give them the benefit of the doubt and stay any way.

The site is laid out poorly so you’re not really sure where to go to see if they even install  water features.  You spent a few minutes hunting around and find their photo gallery. The gallery has lots of photos but they aren’t organized into specific categories so you are forced to click through the entire gallery only to find out that there aren’t any photos of water features.

Getting visitors to stay longer

Now, let’s look at a different scenario.  You land on a local landscaper’s website and the home page is nicely done with 3 distinct areas clearly marked with headings for Photo gallery, About Us and Services.  You click on the Services button and land on a page with a bullet point list of their services and “Water features” is listed.

Ok, now you want to see some photos of their work.  You go to the photo gallery, which is organized into several different categories so you can click on “water features” and only look at those photos.  Wow!  That was easy and fast.

Is your website easy to use?

Do you see where I’m headed?  The first website was confusing to the visitor and not finding what you want in a timely fashion leads to frustration.  The visitor also develops negative feelings for the business, sometimes without even realizing it.  There’s only so much a person will put up with before leaving a website.  They know there are other businesses just a click away so they go check them out before wasting any more time on a site that isn’t user friendly.

The second website had great colors and right away, the visitor feels like this company knows what they’re doing.  It was so easy (and fast) to find their list of services and the gallery was wonderful.  Great photos and you didn’t have to look at a bunch of photos that weren’t of any interest.

Aim for a positive experience

The ease of use triggered a positive emotion and that made the visitor like the company, even though this was the first time he or she had been on the website.  People like patterns and direction on a website.  They want to be led as it makes them feel more comfortable.  Website with bad layouts (no patterns) lead to frustration as the person doesn’t see a clear path and doesn’t know where to go next.

In summary, there are many elements that factor into web design.  The navigation and layout is one of the most important as it plays a huge factor in the functionality of a website and good functionality will keep visitors happy.  Keeping visitors happy will make them stay on your website longer and that increases the chance they’ll contact you.  Isn’t that what you want?

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Published: December 28, 2017 • Last Updated: March 11, 2020

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