Designing with Emotion


I just finished reading Designing for Emotion, which contains a number of interesting examples about how design can be used to evoke emotion. There are a few cool examples in the book, but the one that stood out to me most was Apple’s implementation of their blinking sleep status indicator. This has been documented before (and patented back in 2002), but if anyone has wondered why their Macbook’s sleep indicator was strangely comforting it’s because the pulsating rhythm is based on the respiratory rate of a human (12-20 cycles per minute).

At Shelby, one of our core values is "be human" - this applies in the way we carry ourselves in the larger startup community, internally with our team and also in the way we approach building product.  This is a product philosophy that I’m increasingly taking to heart and one that I think has to be at the center of transformative technology products in slower-moving, low-tech industries.  

Take healthcare, for example. There are a ton of technology companies building solutions for the healthcare enterprise (I used to work at one), but most are just focused on performing a specific task and not providing enjoyable UX. As Aaron Walter says in Designing for Emotion, “certainly we all want to eat edible foods with nutritional value, but we also crave flavor." Based on my experience, design of healthcare IT systems has been focused on making products that are “edible" - they get the job done but they’re pretty crappy in terms of creating an experience that physicians feel they can’t live without.  It’s no surprise to see that adoption of healthcare tech is slow. I believe there’s a huge opportunity for better, more human design to help speed the adoption of healthcare tech among a physician population that is short on time and patience.

Anyone else have other examples of industries waiting to be transformed by designing with emotion?