Designing For Empathy Builds Loyalty

We all experience digital anxiety, which is fueled largely by bad design choices.

This is due mainly to an instinctive lack of empathy on the part of businesses or marketers. Businesses naturally frame everything by hidden or abstract goals, assuming customers understand the inner workings and structure of their organisation. Without empathy in design, content will feel stagnant, boring or, the other extreme, too pushy and overly goal focused.

It really pays off to learn a little about behavioural science. In fact, learning about what makes people tick is fun and rewarding. We remember good experiences, particularly when we get a healthy amount of extra value. This behaviour is not exclusive to websites or apps. It’s our nature.

Screens make our brains tire quickly, anxiety can be reduced with more minimalist designs.

The web is a very unnatural space. Looking at a busy website is hard work and taxing for our eyes and brain, which fuels anxiety. The most successful products are simple. Product owners can make experiences better just by reducing on-screen stress with better design and fewer elements.

In practice, this means showing less content, making text passages shorter and utilising more visual media such as video. Websites owners often make the mistake of thinking their pages need to look “busy”. This is fine if you run a news website. But for most organisations a more focused and relaxed design is better for engagement.

The real buzz that people get from products is the feeling of a sense of achievement.

If you consider game design, then the buzz is not really the short-term rewards. What you are aiming at is becoming an expert, reaching the top. The same principle can be applied to products and is particularly crucial for on-boarding new users. People may start in small ways, supporting a brand in their social posts. Then progress to a donation, activity or purchase.

Website owners can be gamers too with the motivation to master their own art of persuasion through empathy. This means investing more in user testing rather than elaborate features. Continually improving the design for more sustained success. Rather than hurredly launching a product packed with features, but doesn’t actually convert to positive, measurable results.

Discovering a little about psychology helps you design more relatable experiences.

I’ve studied, enthusiastically, many areas of science over the years. Not for any formal educational purpose, but purely as a need to know why my brain works the way it does. It started around the time I received therapy for depression in the 2000s. The added benefit is that this new knowledge feeds perfectly into digital design and marketing. It actually improved my work.

While particle physics and black holes are not really useful to website design, the emergent aspects of physics such as psychology blossoms into culture and communication. Understanding human behaviour really helps you to design for specific cultures and different social groups.

Designing products with empathy will always succeed over more intrusive or pushy designs.

This is a no-brainer but hard to grasp because we all naturally over-emphasise our skills and qualities when designing a website. We need to transform the hard facts into a more appealing and concise story. Without needing to shout it too much. We must also be accutely aware that computer screens are hard work and fleeting experiences for people.