Laura Kalbag

Designing For Emotion

I bought Designing For Emotion as part of the A Book Apart deal, alongside Mobile First. After listening to Jeffery Zeldman talking about the release of these books with Dan Benjamin on The Big Web Show, and hearing how they were perfect books to read before a redesign (my site is in a constant state of awaiting redesign) I was really eager to get stuck in. Oddly, I decided to read Mobile First second.

Designing For Emotion is the third book I’ve read in my read-a-chapter-a-day-for-inspiration series. I write this on a train journey after greedily guzzling the last three chapters in one go as I just couldn’t stop reading.

Aarron Walter writes in an incredibly easy style. His warm, friendly tone helps enthuse you about emotional design and gives you so much to think about beyond the old basic idea that 404 pages should be cute and funny to make your users more forgiving.

Arguably, this book is a lighter read than previous A Book Apart books which is really down to its subject matter. You’re given a real overview of designing for emotion and deeper case studies into how it has been practically applied to different sites but, as Aarron points out in Chapter 4:

The examples…are not meant to be emulated, only to get you thinking about how you can convey your brand personality in your interfaces in a way that resonates with your audience.

This means that, if you’re anything like me, you spend the whole book studying the ideas and working out how you can use similar approaches in your own projects.

Each chapter in Designing For Emotion takes you through a principle of emotional design:

  1. Emotional Design (Intro/Overview)
  2. Designing For Humans
  3. Personality
  4. Emotional Engagement
  5. Overcoming Obstacles
  6. Forgiveness
  7. Risk & Reward

The Forgiveness chapter is more specific than others, focusing on evoking a particular emotion, but the content comes across as equally important as those in other chapters as it is such a necessary emotion to consider on the web where errors and poor performance can easily tempt users to look elsewhere.

Overall I found this book insanely inspirational. Partly because it’s a subject rarely covered in such depth and with so much consideration, but also because it’s almost exciting in its enthusiasm, making it easy to read quickly.


  1. Nik (aMixedmedia)
    Brilliant review. Emotions and design are two favourite subjects of mine –; I’ll be getting this book when I can ! :)
  2. Great post. I am fan of the A Book Apart series, may give this one a read after Responsive Web Design.