This morning I listened to a User Experience expert talking about emotional design. He was questioning the idea that we should be eliciting a desired emotional response. He said something like “We don’t always need to elicit an emotional response. When you are with a friend you are not thinking about eliciting an emotional response. That’s a bit creepy or manipulative.”
This is amusing and true, but he had missed the point. Whether or not you are thinking about eliciting an emotional response from your friend, that is precisely what you are doing. Boredom, frustration, distraction, confusion, focus, surprise and delight all have corresponding emotional states, as does any other way of being that you can think of.
You can’t not elicit emotion just as you can’t not communicate. On the receiving end of all communication is a human nervous system that is processing information emotionally first, and logically as an after thought. Your thinking is coloured by the emotional response you are already having. Emotion trumps everything else so it’s worth paying attention to it! It’s not about manipulation – It’s about being mindful of the experience you are creating, and designing better ones.