Design with Personality in Mind

Designing for emotion = solid branding and marketing

Design with Personality in Mind - emoticons

There’s a reason McDonalds looks very different to a Michelin Star restaurant. They’re not trying to attract the same audience.

This is also true of most websites – you’re not trying to pull in the entire population, you’re trying to attract a very specific subset of it. If you own a company that manufactures steel rope for bridges, you’re likely not going to spend that much time worrying about what the man on the street will think of your site or how he will use it. You’re probably going to be thinking about what the man buying the steel rope will expect.

In order to do that, you’ve got to get an understanding of your average customer’s personality. Does he do a lot of research before buying? Does he like to see detailed information about the product – pictures and specifications? Is his audience a contractor or the CEO? Is he a she?

Asking these fundamental questions will set you on the road to designing a website that your clients and potential customers find easy to use. It’s the design method we use when building websites for clients and it’s the method we’ve had most success with.

When you’re designing with usability in mind, never forget about how your website will make the user feel. According to Smashing Magazine, ‘Experiences that lack an emotional charge tend to fade from memory. Thus, conservative, familiar designs are likely to be forgotten.’

It’s all got to do with the part of your brain called the amygdala. When your brain detects an emotionally-charged event, the amygdala releases dopamine. Because dopamine aids memory and information processing, situations that are exciting or reward-driven are far more likely to be remembered than things that do not provoke an emotion.

For that reason, you really do want to design with your average customer’s personality in mind. That doesn’t mean you have to be boring. It just means that you’ve got to make sure the user-experience is good, that you’re designing for emotion. When your user feels happy because he/she has been able to find the information they are looking for easily, you’re probably going to find that they go from being aware of your brand to being one of its advocates.

If you’re really interested in finding out more about designing with personality in mind, take a look at a free sample chapter from Smashing Magazine’s latest book.

Personality is not just a topic designers should keep in mind. So too should those involved in branding and marketing, and it’s also particularly important for writers. Nowadays, everything has got to have a personality. Everything has got to have the potential to go viral, at least if you want a chance of standing out from the masses.

This is the perfect chance to show your customers who you really are. Not only will it mean they are more likely to trust you, but it will probably also mean they are more likely to remember you.

I like how Smashing Magazine puts it: ‘If your website were a person, who would it be? Would the person be a serious, buttoned-up, all-business type, yet trustworthy and capable? Or a wise-cracking buddy who makes mundane tasks fun?’

This is what you’ve got to think about when you’re creating your design persona document:

  • Your brand
  • Your mission statement
  • Your values and ethics
  • Your image
    • Imagine your website as this person!
  • Your voice
    • This may be a good place to do some sample copywriting.
  • What makes you stand out/different
  • Your style
    • This might be where you focus on colour, general layout and typography
  • How are you going to engage users?
    • Interesting facts or quotes, a particular style of catchy writing? Funny product pictures?
  • Define your character traits but also, their boundaries
    • For example: we’re serious but we’re not boring, or we’re creative but we’re not without focus. This will help your whole team better understand where to draw the line.

Don’t forget that personality-focused design keeps the user in mind. The fact that you’re designing for emotion means that you’ve got to know your user’s personality well. You’ve got to know how they will react, what they like, how they are going to search and research. You’re really trying to establish a positive and meaningful relationship with real people.

Relationships are at the core of almost every digital interaction – marketing and branding, web and product design, search engine optimisation and even, web development.

If you would like to find out more about web design and designing for emotion in particular, get in touch. We will be happy to help you establish your business persona so that we can build a website for you that will generate leads and help to create successful, long-term relationships with clients.

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