Designing for Emotion, Aarron Walter

Designing for EmotionAarron Walter recounts how creating engaging designs amplifies the user experience. When it isn’t enough to be useful, or usable, emotion is the trigger that helps stick to the user’s memory. Aarron’s work at MailChimp gives him hands-on experience and is a successful tribute to his understanding of emotion and how it generates happy customers.

Designing for Emotion is an ebook not only that I need to use for our client design works, I need to buckle down and think about it for my own blog, right here. Have I done my homework ? Do I have a persona laid out that describes who I am. Let’s use that handy Design Persona Template generously offered at

Overall thoughts

So, we start with this premise, according to Aarron, that “to engage your audience emotionally, you must let your brand’s personality show.” I think that’s fair enough. So, is the site engaging emotionally my audience? Let’s go through the steps:

1. Brand Name: alexmccardell

2. Overview: I love ebooks, and I create web sites. If I were somebody (else) I would be a successful literature writer who helped make a difference, someone like Victor Hugo (if I want to aspire to greatness). The personality would be someone who writes well and captivates the audience, but also writes about subject matter that can impact our lives.

3. My traits:

  • Serious but not stoic
  • Persuasive but not a salesman
  • Kind but not afraid to say what’s on my mind
  • Thorough but not exhaustive
  • Excellent spelling and grammar but not without mistakes

Ok, the last one was an excuse if ever you find an error 😉

4. Personality map: Friendly, neither dominant nor submissive

5. Voice: My voice must have authority as an expert in my field. But I should be open to comments and criticisms. I should not be forgiving of my opinions, but should be able to justify them. Copy examples:

  • General reflexions: must is better than should.
  • Response to positive comment: Thanks, Sue. I agree with you that Aarron’s book is a must for all web site professionals, not just designers.
  • Response to negative comment: I see your point, well taken. My reflexion was based on an experience I had (several times). This would be a good moment to share a story for better explanation….
  • Twitter comments: #ebooks #websites are a wonderful match.

6. Visual lexicon (or mini-creative brief):

  • Color: close to eInk if possible (and available on all devices btw),
  • Typography: I chose Charter, because this is one of the ibook apps fonts, and the one that I particularly think is the easiest to read on a screen,
  • General style notes: simple, very simple, to the point, no frills, should have some contrast, and the design makes sure content is center stage.

7. Engagement methods:  I could surprise you with reflecting on an ebook that on the surface has nothing to do with the web, but I can give concrete examples with my experience as to how it made an impact.

After all that, I daresay I still could have more graphical contrast with what you see here. Needless to say, this is a great exercise, one that can be done with most of my clients.

Most of Aarron’s ebook Designing for Emotion is quite useful, and where I work we have already been digging deep in all the areas of discussion. But Aarron’s chapter on “personality” helped put it in great perspective how to pursue an emotionally engaged web site. Here’s a quote that sums it up:

To engage your audience emotionally, you must let your brand’s personality show…. When you present your brand’s personality clearly, your audience can relate to it as if it were just another human. It creates empathy and helps your audience see a better version of themselves. Humans want to connect with real people.

In the end, this book is a wonderful reminder that we are humans, and it is a web designer’s job to build web sites that reach out to humans, and not hide behind clicks and stock photos. Web sites must be unique, and it’s up to us to discover that uniqueness. We must amplify the experience.

Personal thoughts on why I enjoyed this ebook

This ebook is one to which I love to refer when I need to help a client break out from their fears of showing emotion. The persona template helps put their individuality in the spotlight and so we even start to move into content strategy, which as Aarron says is for another ebook. I agree.

Publishing info

Title of book : Designing for Emotion
Author : Aarron Walter
Date of initial publication : 2011
Publisher : A Book Apart
Where you can buy it :