What’s the purpose of an online store? To generate economic value.
What does generate economic value? Customer loyalty.
What drives Customer loyalty? Emotions.
Being Empathetic to the emotional nature of customers is the single trigger that can be the catalyst to create loyalty.
Whether you call them Users, Visits, Sessions, Customers, they are People, just like you and I, driven by desires and emotions, People who have an special emotional connection with family, friends and also with he things they take into ownership. Our capacity to express and understand emotions is at the very core of that which makes us People. The more we feed this communicative capacity the more we feel Human and the more we are deprived or limited from it the more frustration we feel. An online store is a communication system where the Sender of a Message (-and the receiver of a response-) is a Human Being.
When People are confronted with products and offers in a device screen as opposed to confronted with other Human Beings, our unique capacity to articulate and understand emotions is blocked. This inherit human desire to express and understand emotions simply freezes when accessing an online store and therefore we feel the cold of a non-communicative interaction. In the same way, when we are confronted with a Human Being and with it a wealth of human expressions, we feel human, we feel connected to what we are.
One needs to acknowledge that the device screen is a cold space that can easily annoy us because it lacks of this fundamental human emotional exchange.
Adding Expressions to User Interfaces
The Human Brain reacts differently to Objects than to Faces. There is an invented category of objects named The Greebles ( Robert Abelson ) that when used as stimuli to the Human Brain, do trigger processing by the area of the brain that deals with Faces.
If an object type can trigger the Facial processing capacity of a Human Brain, can then a User Interface trigger a similar effect through Objects that hold themselves re-shaping, expansions, contractions, flip overs, motions of whatever kind? I do believe the answer is yes , and I do believe than when we, as People are confronted to a UI that provides these Objects which hold these Expressive properties, our desire to understand finds a beam of light and comfort within the coldness of the device screens.
When a UI element holds this property and delivers a unit of Expression, this I call an Expressive Design component which is a core component of the UIs EmpathyBroker designs and delivers for Search and Navigation.
Interfacing technology with Human Beings deals with the human mind, the human culture, the complexities of perception, the aspects that define People and lets face it, for the most part, humans don’t entirely comprehend humans.
Generating UIs is an art form designed to connect with People and connecting with People is the ultimate success of any consumable.
To me, the User Interface of an online store is that golden gate bridge between the Art and the Science of Search, giving shape to software, giving form to algorithms, creating an expression to the engineering inside that aims to connect with the Person outside, a connection that can be achieved in humanly meaningful ways by the use of Expressive Design elements.