Alastair Somerville

Oct 27, 2016

3 min read

Emotion Cards – what and why?

I’ve just added something to Etsy. They’re called Emotion Cards. I’ll just use this posting to explain why.

In the last year, I have become more and more aware of how important emotions are to how people understand and use new products and services.

Coming out of my work in Sensory Design, it has become much clearer how strongly emotions affect how people make meaning and make decisions.

The problem with this discovery is that I also recognise how badly people generally speak about emotions. There is both the lack of desire to talk of personal feelings but also a lack of vocabulary. People cannot describe or discuss emotions as they do not have a shared vocabulary.

There is a difficulty for me in this. I do not like imposing a set of words, a way of speaking onto people. It goes against my views on person-centered design and usability testing.

However, in this case, the gap is so great that sharing some words and some idea of hierarchy of meanings might help.

I was exchanging tweets with @johncutlefish about this wheel of emotion.

It’s a good way of laying out some core ideas of emotions and related words (though it does use visual symmetry a little too strongly).

The problem is that that the diagram is a bit too complex and hard to read.

So I have shifted the information to a set of cards.

A workshop researcher can simply lay the cards out with the simplest emotional idea on top and allow participants to decide if they want to explore more. The cards allow a person to drill down through different emotional states and to find related words.

The cards allow people to share and build emotional meanings in the time and place of the research session. The cards can enable deeper exploration as well as tethering discussions to certain words (even if the definitions may change between workshops).

Have a look at Etsy and buy them if you like. They are one way of thinking about this problem. You may think of a better one. We can talk about that.

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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