Driving more valuable customer journeys with emotion mapping

Written by Chris Mears – User Experience Designer chris.mears@cimex.com Cimex Media Ltd 53-55 Scrutton Street London EC2A 4PJ T +44 (0)20 7324 7780 F +44 (0)20 7324 7781 www.cimex.com

1 Putting the emotional back into UX
Let’s face it, none of us make entirely rational decisions online – especially when it comes to online purchasing, donation, registration or other ‘conversion’ activities. Published findings in neuroscience indicate its emotion, not reason that primarily drives customers’ purchasing decisions - with emotion stimulating the mind 3,000 times faster than rational thought. Delivering the right messages at the right time leads us manipulate our consideration set and purchasing motivations as we move through a user journey. Research published in the IPA’s ‘New Models of Marketing Effectiveness: From Integration to Orchestration’ found that emotionally led campaigns outperform, with advertisers enjoying a 31 per cent increase in profits compared to a 16 per cent increase for more rational campaigns. There are a wide range of publications and discussions on effective online and advertising copy and a whole industry driven around the need to test the effectiveness of creative with real users. However, often, little consideration is given to the role of emotions earlier in the digital development process. T oo frequently the UX and wireframing process is focused on the rational rather than the emotional. As the positioning, layout and wording of individual buttons & fields in page can have a large impact on conversion rates, leaving the focus of this activity too late in the process can be both time consuming and expensive. Usability professionals are starting to apply science to measure & map emotional response. Face recognition techniques and variations on eyetracking technology are starting to deliver more measurable insight on users unconscious feelings to wireframes and online page designs. However, whilst valuable, these emotion mapping techniques are again taking place at testing stage on finished work - adding time and budget to often commercially constrained projects.

1.1 Measuring emotional engagement right at the start
At Cimex we think there is a way to draw out emotional triggers and incorporate emotional messaging right at the beginning of the process – without having to resort to large, expensive user testing processes. One of the techniques we like to use at Cimex is Robert Plutchik’s emotion wheel. Taking its cues from the artist’s colour wheel, it attempts to identify eight different primary emotions (in the centre), with both polar opposites, and different intensities and combinations of each.

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However, rather than using this technique to map completed designs or wireframes; we think it should be applied earlier in the process to USER JOURNEYS This has a number of benefits: • You can get a handle of whether key journeys are going to leave the user in a positive emotional state • You can identify areas that are eliciting negative emotions and make sure they are counteracted with opposing, positive emotions • You don’t need to make changes to design mock-ups or wireframes, which can take time

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It helps think about and assign values to what emotional state users are in before they even engage with your system

It gives your personas real life emotions and assesses how well your system caters for each one on an emotional level

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1.2 Using Plutchik’s wheel to measure emotion
The first thing we need to do is add ‘scores’ to our emotion wheel. In general, emotions in the central circle are worth either negative or positive 3, those on the 2nd circle are worth negative or positive 2 and those in the 3rd layer are worth negative or positive 1 due to their different intensities. There are caveats however. The negative emotions on the 2nd circle can actually be positives when used in certain situations. Surprise can swing both ways too. A great example of this would be pricing, surprise at how expensive something is (-2) or surprise at how great value it is (+2). Certain charity organisations may want to elicit the emotion of ‘sadness’ in order to get people to donate to their cause. Anger or fear at something can result in proactive action on the part of the user. There is also one exception on the third ring too. Generally distraction is a bad thing; however there are edge cases when it could be considered a positive. An example of this could be messaging on additional offers available to the user at checkout, distracting them from their end goal of purchasing their original choice, but encouraging them to add more items to their order. In this case it would be a +1 emotion – if that is indeed what you are trying to achieve. So use the diagram as a guide, but consider carefully what you are trying to achieve and interpret the values appropriately.

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1.3 Quantifying the journey
For most journeys we can assume the user starts at an emotional state of 0, or neutral. However, it is important to think about the situations and environments in which the users are interacting with your system. Let’s take the example of a time sheet system for employees to use at work. It is possible the user has just been told in a meeting they will not be getting a Christmas bonus this year. This puts them in an emotional state of anger, or -2. It’s definitely worth thinking of a few of these extreme scenarios and making sure your journeys leave the users in a better emotional state then when they started, or certainly don’t make it any worse!

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Let’s take our registration example and see how we can map the changes in the user’s state across a basic journey.

As we can see, the registration process and purchasing process has left our user in an emotional state of +4, giving him an overall positive experience. Personas really come into their own using this method, as you can start to explore how different people interact emotionally with your designs. It can also help guide you in business decisions about certain functionality or features. If a client really pushes for a feature, but you can demonstrate in the user journeys that the feature will actually leave the user in a lower emotional state because of it, your argument will carry a lot more weight.

1.4 The wheel as a support to user testing
Whilst UX professionals would advocate user testing on any development undertaken, in the commercial world this is sometimes unfortunately seen as a luxury. In such cases this technique also has value as a sanity check, as part of a more conventional emotion mapping exercise on developed sites or designs, prototypes and wireframes. In this way we can see if these are meeting the objectives of the user personas that have been created. Let’s look at an example of someone who is looking at the Oxfam website (www.oxfam.org.uk) to find out about how they can help after seeing an advert on TV. They begin the interaction in a state of interest (+1) at what the charity does.

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Trust (+2)

Interest (+1)

Sadness (+2)

Distraction (-1)

Interest (+1)

Here we can see sadness being used as a positive emotion to encourage from the user in order to get them to donate to the cause. For this persona, the page appears to work effectively, with an emotion score of +5.

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Try it with a persona who wants to get in contact to reduce their monthly donations, as they just found out too much money is being taken from their account , and the page tells a different story.

Distraction (-1)

Annoyance (-1)

Distraction (-1)

Annoyance (-1)

The user begins the interaction in a state of anger at (-2). Any donation messages are now adding to their agrivation, and there is little trust left to counterbalance the negative emotions. To make matters worse there is no contact link easily available. The user ends up with an emotion score of -6. This page is maybe not working as hard as it could for this particular use case.

1.5 Conclusion
Quantifying emotion is a tricky thing, and often it’s quite intangible. Without years of experience in behavioural psychology it’s difficult to get a grip on user’s emotions, even when you are observing them directly. However, the benefits of an emotionally impactful customer journey are real and can be measured in increased conversion rates and often thousands or millions of pounds! By using this method can go some way towards creating more persuasive journeys that leave customers with more positive feelings about the brand at their end. And after all isn’t that he point? Positive experiences lead to heightened audience engagement, brand loyalty and ultimately customer value.

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