Measuring Emotions in Digital Product Design

Every designer knows the importance of testing as part of the digital product design process.

At NearForm our designers assess a product’s usability by analysing research participants’ abilities to perform a series of tasks. In addition to validating assumptions made by product teams, we also measure emotions, such as frustration or delight, as they occur. The results are analysed and improvements are integrated into the product design.

NearForm designers strive to validate assumptions made by product teams in every engagement. Through thorough testing and analysis, we can be confident that we are building a product that elicits the desired user behaviour and satisfies the needs of the client.

Digital product design has experienced a significant shift in focus from usability to user experience design in the IT domain over the years. As the influence of technology has grown in our daily lives, designers’ roles and job titles have changed to reflect this new normal.

NearForm designers focus on user emotions as they interact with the prototypes and products we are creating.

The key to creating an exceptional product user experience is to test against a system of assumptions that require verification. Small budgets and rapid product iterations require the testing phase to be Lean.

Designers should Measure Emotional Responses in the Testing Phase of Digital Product Design

Here are 3 important reasons why we advocate measuring emotional responses during the testing phase of digital product design.

1. It can be done in a Lean manner.

Garcia and Hammond (2016) suggest using a self-reporting, guided method in which participants tell researchers how they are feeling at key moments throughout the test. Participants record the emotion and intensity level they are feeling on charts.

emotion chart for testing phase of digital product design

Figure 1. Emotion chart participants use to select emotions and intensity levels throughout an experience.

2. It can help designers build better products and services.

Garcia and Hammond use test results for building an emotional journey chart to illustrate a user’s experience with a product over time, as illustrated in Figure 2.

the geneva emotion wheel for digital product design
Figure 2. The Geneva Emotion Wheel by Scherer

By pairing this approach with usability results, they show that the emotional journey chart displays a rich story that identifies the parts of the product needing improvement.

Garcia and Hammond discovered that test participants were more reflective when using the chart in comparison to verbally expressing emotions without using the chart. They also claim that the tool offers a better understanding of the product experience than user ratings.

3. It’s good design practice.

It’s important that we, as designers, explore and support processes that facilitate good design practice. While intuition and experience are valuable qualities for designers, accurate measurements of emotional responses contribute to building more informed products.

Building products that elicit positive emotions is a good indication that consumers are achieving their goals while using our products or services and will continue to do so.

Other ways to Measure Emotions

There are many other self-report methods to measure the emotional response including The Geneva Emotion Wheel by Scherer (2005) in Figure 2, and PrEmo by Desmet (2003), in Figure 3.

The Geneva Emotion Wheel does not require a technical setup for the collection of data as it can be printed out and completed with a pencil. Others interested in the area have gone on to create digital survey tools.

Designers in NearForm look forward to measuring the emotional response of the products we design.

PrEmo emotional response for digital product design

Figure 3. PrEmo by Desmet

Garcia, S.E. and Hammond, L.M., 2016, May. Capturing & Measuring Emotions in UX. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 777-785). ACM.

Scherer, K. R. (2005). What are emotions? And how can they be measured? Social Science Information, 44(4), 693-727.

Desmet P. (2003) Measuring Emotion: Development and Application of an Instrument to Measure Emotional Responses to Products. In: Blythe M.A., Overbeeke K., Monk A.F., Wright P.C. (eds) Funology. Human-Computer Interaction Series, vol 3. Springer, Dordrecht

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