Intuition and Narrative
Imagine holding a glass of water, it's the act of reaching out, gripping, and lifting that informs you of the object's qualities. The smoothness of the glass, the weight of the water, the chill of the glass' contents being transferred to your skin — a series of feelings. It's not that different with software. It too, in its abstract and virtual form, needs to be felt.
Aesthetics and usability are key parts of user experience (UX) design. They are the tangible aspects that users can reach out and touch, even if only metaphorically. We quantify them, we measure them. But there's another side to UX that we seldom consider, often because it's harder to define, let alone quantify. This is the realm of feelings. It's the emotional response a user has to a product, the subliminal messages that design sends, and the ineffable way software makes a user feel. It's at this intersection of technology and emotion where we find some of the most potent insights on product design, insights rooted in a century-old philosophy.
Henri Bergson, a French philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th century, had a groundbreaking theory on intuition. He argued that our conventional modes of understanding, like language and scientific analysis, fall short in capturing the full essence of reality. Our rational minds, obsessed with categorizing and quantifying, tend to fragment the world. Yet reality, according to Bergson, is better understood as a continuous, ever-changing flow of experiences. A reality that's to be intuited, felt, rather than dissected and analyzed.
When designing products, we can't afford to ignore this stream of continuous experience. Too often, designers get caught up in individual components of a product: its color scheme, button layout, or loading speeds. But the true measure of a product's UX is how it flows — the seamless transition from one screen to the next, the intuitive progression of a sign-up process, the satisfaction of seeing a task to completion.
UX is about shaping the user's journey through the product, orchestrating an emotional arc that parallels the functional one. It's about imbuing a logical structure with an emotional tone, in other words, making your product not just usable, but feel right. It's no easy task. You can't reduce feelings to pixels or code. Yet they're undeniably there, shaping users' experiences in profound and often unconscious ways.
Designing with feelings in mind doesn't mean disregarding usability or aesthetics. They're still integral to the user's journey. But it means going beyond them, looking at the product as more than a sum of its parts. It's an approach that requires designers to step out of their analytical minds and embrace intuition, to empathize with their users and intuit their emotional journey. It's about marrying the logic of design with the flow of experience.
This approach may sound daunting, but we're not starting from scratch. Every successful product has, to some extent, captured this emotional dimension. When a product "just works," when it fits into a user's life like a missing puzzle piece, you can be sure that its designers have tapped into this stream of intuitive feeling.
A product, at its core, is a conduit for experiences. The more we understand this, and the more we learn to design with feeling, the better our products will be. Not just in their measurable metrics, but in the intangible way they resonate with users. And in the end, isn't that the highest goal of design? To create something that not just works, but feels right.
Beyond the technicalities and aesthetics of a product, there's another layer that we as designers, entrepreneurs, and innovators must address — the layer of storytelling. Every product carries a narrative, a story of how it solves a problem or enhances the user's life. When users resonate with this narrative, the product becomes more than a mere tool. It becomes a character in their story, a means to fulfill their aspirations and dreams.
Intuitively, users seek products that not only solve their problems but also fit into their narrative seamlessly. This is where feelings and storytelling intersect. The more we can make users feel their way through the impact of a product, the more deeply they'll engage with it. By designing a user experience that reflects and reinforces the product's narrative, we have the opportunity to create a strong emotional bond between the product and the user.
Consider a productivity app. On the surface, its purpose is simple — help users manage their tasks efficiently. However, on a deeper, more emotional level, what the product is offering is a sense of control, calm, and accomplishment. Users aren't just buying a task-management tool, they're buying into a story of a more organized, productive, and stress-free life.
To sell this story, it's not enough to simply list features. We must make users feel their way through the narrative. The design of the app should evoke feelings of simplicity and ease, making each interaction a reinforcement of the underlying story. The seamless flow from adding a task, to working on it, to finally marking it complete, should feel like a journey of achievement. Every alert, every notification should reassure the user that they're on top of their life.
This is the essence of selling a product through feelings. The user experience should be more than functional—it should be an emotional journey that affirms the product's narrative and the user's role in it. When a user doesn't just use a product, but feels their way through it, the story becomes more impactful. The problem it solves becomes more tangible and personal, which, in turn, makes the product more desirable.
In the grand scheme, designing with feelings doesn't just enhance user experience, it amplifies the product's story, making it an integral part of the user's life. And in doing so, it ultimately drives the sale of the product, making it a win-win for both the user and the business. It's not just about creating a product that works, but one that works in harmony with the user's narrative and feelings.