Experience Design For “Targeted” User Emotion

The Practical Workbook For Product Experience Design

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels


recently turned couch potato to wannabe runner, I depend on guided runs by Nike Running Club to keep me from not giving up. The side to the dish is the accompanying playlist recommended on Spotify.

Five minutes in, I am warming up with the music. The music is interrupted by an advertisement asking me to purchase the premium. No persuasion, no storytelling, it plainly asks me to subscribe to reduce the annoyance.

It’s all right, I don’t mind it as much.


Fifteen minutes into the run, the pace goes with the rhythm. I know I won't be able to start again if I stop. And then yet, again, the fifth time during the run there they are. The annoying voices of people almost blackmailing me.

I am aware of the interruption. I am suddenly very aware of the aching muscles and shortness of breath. It’s harder for me to keep pushing.

Now I am pissed at Spotify.

There is a very fine line between nudging users to get on board and pushing them over the line where they can easily replace your products. With the number of alternatives available in the market, the balance is delicate.

Products today are focused on User experience. And that is great.

A large part of the User experience is focused on making it easy for users to navigate and persuade them to do what the Product wants them to do.

But a good user experience is rarely accomplished by merely visual experience.

Good Experience is about how you make a user feel

How does a user feel at the point of using an Application? What is a user most likely doing while she uses the Product? And does that impact her immediate emotion? All these are often ignored questions. And they impact the user experience in a big way. Our UX, even without considering this variable in an equation could work because of the implicit existence of this factor without us consciously thinking about it.

Emotion Mapping is important.

Know Your User

Every story in Business starts and ends from “Know Your consumer” and that’s why we start from here

The better you know your user, the deeper you would understand their motivations, emotions, distractions, and aggravators.

Let’s illustrate this point by using an Uber passenger as an example.

Sharon got the toast out of the toaster and poured some of the scalding coffee in her mouth as she tried to book her cab to her office. As the App waited to find a cab, she quickly threw on her heels and put her laptop and the charger in her bag. Another day, the same dance. As the cab details got updated, she saw that it was ten minutes away and mentally started calculating if she would be late for the meeting. You could never rely on cabs for meetings. Like every other day, she wished she had gotten up half an hour early. She could not sit and wait in her home any longer, so she loaded her bag on her shoulder, picked up the toast in one hand and the coffee mug in the other. As soon as she got down to the gate, her Wifi signal got weaker and her screen would not refresh. She had to restart the app to get the latest update. She tried calling the cab driver but his phone was busy. So she called her office to inform them, and just as soon as she had uttered her first words, the cab started calling. They could never follow the map and needed her to dictate the exact location. As she got into the cab, she breathed a sigh of relief. She would be reaching her office just as she finished her coffee. Five minutes later she was in a traffic jam and started getting anxious again. What were the chances she would make it?

Let’s break the situation down and get to know Sharon better:

  • Motivation: Getting to the destination as quickly as possible

  • Emotions: Wide range of emotions displayed in a single usage.

  • Distractions: Daily activities while booking a cab. In this case, eating toast and drinking coffee. The user could also be expected to be engaged in other applications while the cab is booked.

  • Aggravators: Time taken to book a cab, faraway cabs getting allocated, cab delays, phone calls to ask address, extra waiting time, and most of all — unpredictability.


Create The Emotion Map For Experiences

As you observed, a user is expected to have a very wide range of emotions at different stages of interacting with your Product. When identified correctly, experiences can be more precisely designed to alter negative emotions.

You could use any mechanism that works for you to map user experience against emotions. A Swimlane usually works for me.

Here is an example Emotion map for the above-described experience for the specific persona mentioned. I have reduced the experiences due to space constraints but you should go as elaborate as you possibly can.