CX Insights

UX Demo Case: The Effects Of Emotional Design

5 min read

Emotional design becomes increasingly important on the web. More and more companies try to add a personal touch to their site to express personality, engage visitors and illustrate their content. Out of curiosity, we set up a quick visual survey with Usabilla to find out what effects emotional design elements really have on your visitors.

The survey included the homepages of three different websites (Testflight/ Sign now/ Axure) that all use freehand drawings as a means to add personality to their site. 46 Dutch participants answered three questions for every homepage by placing points and notes on top of the design. In total, 529 points and 306 notes were placed to answer the following questions:

  • Which elements attract your attention the most? Please leave a note to let us know why.
  • What do you think about the drawings on this site? Please leave a note to let us know why.
  • Which elements would you remove from the design? Please leave a note to let us know why.

Results in a nutshell

In general, the results showed that the freehand drawings had different effects on the participants:

(1) In all three versions, the drawings were very effective triggers for attention. On the site of Testflight, 52 percent of all participants marked the drawing in the header as attention grabber. On the site of Sign now it were even 62 percent, and on 79 percent reported that the they thought the freehand drawings in the header were worth their attention.

(2) On all three sites it became clear that people had both positive and negative feelings about the freehand drawings. This can be explained through their emotional nature and the fact that any emotional element is a matter of taste.

(3) It also became clear in all three versions that the drawings can help to make the purpose of the site and the product more clear. However, the semantic value of the drawings also differs between participants and did not have the same value for everyone.

(4) Positive effects are less mentioned than negative ones. It is more difficult for people to report something positive than to criticise something negative. Overall there were less positive comments regarding the freehand drawings than negative ones. Still, participants didn’t choose to abandon them when asked what they would remove from the site.

Detailed findings and user comments


Attention trigger

  • The plane was the first thing I saw
  • I first looked at the plane and the colored icons
  • The drawings really grabbed my attention, maybe because I like drawings
  • Very nice! Playful and colorful. This makes me want to read further
  • The drawings attract my attention and give me something visual to go with the name

Positive emotions

  • I like the design, it looks very modern.
  • Nice drawings
  • I love the drawings
  • The style of the drawings is very appealing
  • I like the fact that the drawings are very simple, rather than too busy and detailed

Negative emotions

  • I don’t like the drawings. I think they make the site too busy
  • I don’t understand the drawings. What do they tell me?

Semantic value

  • This drawing is nice, clear, playful, and still businesslike
  • I like the drawing, think it’s very clear
  • Nice and clear drawings
  • The drawings really match the text, which I think makes them very helpful
  • The drawings really help me to understand what this site is about.

Sign now

Attention trigger

  • These three images really got my attention. Both because of their color and because they tell a short story
  • I first looked at these drawings
  • I looked at the car first
  • The three drawings are very visual, which attracted my attention

Positive emotions

  • The colors and the style of these drawings make me happy
  • Funny images
  • I really like the drawings. They make me want to read further
  • This is a great and fun way to enter a site
  • I like the drawings because they look pretty and I think I would remember them
  • The simple style of the drawings is very nice

Negative emotions

  • I really don’t like these drawings
  • Drawings are old-fashioned
  • I think the drawings are childish
  • The drawings are too simple. They look childish and not very professional

Semantic value
* The most important points become very clear through the drawings
* The images tell me exactly how it works. I like it because I do a lot of things with my iPhone while on the run.
* The drawings make me curious and invite me to read further.
* The images are very clear and tell me what the product is about.
* Nice, simple, clear


Attention trigger

  • The image in the center with the lightnings was the first thing I saw
  • These drawings really draw attention
  • I first looked at these drawings, maybe because they are positioned right in the center
  • These images really grabbed my sight
  • The drawings draw attention because they are super busy, almost aggressive

Positive emotions

  • Funny drawings
  • Funny characters
  • I like the little character
  • The drawings are attractive, but maybe too dominant
  • I like the combination of 2D and 2D in the drawing. It makes you take a second look

Negative emotions

  • There is too much going on
  • The character of the UX man looks angry and mean. It looks as if people are disappointed
  • The drawing is too childish and silly
  • I don’t like the image, even though it was the first thing I looked at
  • Personally, I don’t like the drawing style, it’s too simple
  • The UX man looks like cleaning staff for the restrooms

Semantic value

  • I don’t understand what the drawing is about
  • You need to look at all three images very carefully to understand what the story is about
  • I don’t really like the drawings, but I think it’s clear what they are supposed to tell me
Sabina Idler
Sabina was technical writer & UXer @Usabilla for 5 years before she started her own UX research and consultancy firm; UXkids. With UXkids, Sabina leverages her academic research expertise, know how in child development, and strategic vision to help companies build successful digital products for children. You can connect with Sabina on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.