How a focus on emotion-driven design can help

Experience-driven design, central in the work I do, has a particular focus on the impact of design on the experience with a product. Something that is becoming more important within this field is the impact of products on people’s general health, well-being and happiness. This shift in concern, I think, can partially be explained by important changes in our social context and feeling of connectedness. In the past decade or so, the Internet and developments in mobile technology have completely changed our perspectives of the world and our social environment. People have become more aware of issues and changes within their direct environment, but even more so with things happening thousands of miles away. Take the recent events in the Middle East for example. It made us feel closer to the people actually fighting for change far, far away and made us feel a shared responsibility.

I think designers are also starting to feel this responsibility. I see an increase of interest in socially responsive design within the context of experience-driven design; in fact, I believe there is interdependency between them, as well as a shared concept: emotion. Emotions are the drivers behind (social) behavior and behind the experiences we have in general.

In this presentation I gave a couple of years ago, I talked about the role of the designer in a changing world, in which problems and issues are more about integration than about mere raw technology. We need things that are right for us, as people, and I think designers are the ones that can bring us just that. In my work I am an advocate for emotional design, which I think can assist designers to design (social) change, as it puts people before technology and runs on the basis of meaning, mindfulness and empathy. Also, researching emotions can enable you to uncover social tendencies and trends.