By: Sabrina Duda

ROI of Happy Users: Emotions vs. Numbers?

What is the ROI of Happy Users?

Sabrina Duda

Many business minded people are focused on numbers. To be true, that is their job. They have to make sure that money is spent reasonably and revenue is rising. So the only justification for spending money on users’ happiness is a business benefit.

How can I measure the effect of users’ happiness on numbers? What is the Return of Investment of spending time and money on finding out how to make the user happy?

In her article about the ROI Of Usability ( Megan Wilson quotes a few study results with concrete numbers:

The tricky thing is: users’ decisions are partly made unconsciously and are based on emotions. Research in Psychology found that unhappy people or people in a bad mood tend to have a tunnel vision, are less creative and more sensitive to usability problems. Happy people are relaxed, less critical and more likely to buy something. So take care to make the users of your website happy with your experience design!

How to Arouse Emotions on a Website

Let’s take a look at successful brands using emotions on their websites:

Website Royal Bank of Scotland Personal: Evokes emotions of a relaxed home, free of worry.

Website of Airbnb: Emotions of being home despite being in another country.

What is Emotional Usability?

For a long time, it has been understood that to be attractive, interactive products should not only be useful and user-friendly, but they should also offer the user something beyond that. The term “Emotional Usability” was first coined and defined in 1994 by R.J. Logan: “Emotional usability is the degree to which a product is desirable or serves a need beyond the traditional objective.“Marc Hassenzahl calls it the hedonistic quality of a product.

What leads to the joy of use factor of a product, from a psychological perspective? The aesthetic appeal of a product can prompt a decision to buy or use a product. But hedonistic elements also play a very important role in the actual use of products: aside from the aesthetic aspect, the satisfaction of psychological needs is also important.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs 1943:

Website Airbnb: Emotional needs like social belonging are addressed.

Emotional Design Model

In the Emotional Design Model by D. A. Norman all phases of how the brain processes experiences are taken into account: From the first reaction to a product to the use of a product and to the point of developing a personal relationship with the product. In all phases, emotions play an important role.

Do-Goals and Be-Goals – An easy way to have both the functional purpose and the emotional purpose of a product in mind is the differentiation of Marc Hassenzahl and Virpi Roto into“Do-Goals” and “Be-Goals”. A good example of a “Do-Goal” is the use of a mobile phone to arrange a meeting. “Do-Goals” are just the plain functional purpose a product serves. But when making phone calls with friends and family, the so-called Be-Goals are met, the emotional purpose a digital product fulfills. “Be-Goals” can be experiencing closeness with other people, getting social appreciation, personal development, etc.

Website Lebara: Babys and children are the most emotional stimuli.

Happy Users Will Make You Happy, Too

And it is not just about the happiness of the user by itself. Good user experience design will lead to fewer usability problems and thus savings for your support team and your call center, not to speak of the long-term benefits regarding customer binding and brand image.

So always be aware of the Be-Goals! In order to grip your users emotionally, you should always ask yourself: How can I reach my users on an emotional level? What purposes serves my product, beyond functionality? Why are people buying my product? Are there any other, underlying reasons for it? How can I address these more unconscious needs?

This is the only way to be really successful and raise your ROI. Happy users will lead to numbers in your business that make you happy, too.

About the Author

Sabrina Duda has been active in user experience research since 1998, having studied Psychology at Humboldt University in Berlin specializing in Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics.

Sabrina Duda founded the user and branding research agency “eye square” in Berlin and has been in the organizing team “World Usability Day Berlin”.


Twitter @SabrinaDuda

Skype SabrinaDuda

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