Emotional design

Emotional design

As part of my master's course, I was given the task of designing a mobile application for a fictional high-end shopping mall. The purpose of the application was to improve physical footfall in the mall, support customers with their purchases and increase sales.

The design of the mobile application was to be communicated in the form of a high-fidelity prototype.

Timeframe: 3 months

Responsibility: individual project


Competitor analysis

There are several luxury retailers and shopping centres in the UK with great mobile applications. For inspiration and a better understanding of the sector, I researched and evaluated three apps. Those three apps where Harrods, Westfield and Victoria Leeds.

The purpose of the research was to identify common features, flows and functionality that my application would need to include.

Key findings

  • Security is paramount.
  • Using an online transcription service is complex, requiring several email responses.
  • Transcription services are costly and increase based on the complexity of the language and desired turnaround time.
  • The webform should be a maximum of three steps
Competitor Analysis - Harrods


The competitor analysis highlighted that most luxury retail applications shared the same common functionality. To differentiate from the competitors I decided to explore emotional design and use that to create a meaningful and memorable experience.

Emotional design is an emerging trend within the digital industry, but it surrounds us in everyday items from teapots to orange juicers. It's our emotional connection to those items and how we remember experiences associated with them. Emotional Design - Why we love (or hate ) everyday things by Donald A. Norman describes this so well and showed me that design is much more than the way something looks.

In the book Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter, it explores emotional design in the digital world. The book provides many examples of emotional design from companies like MailChimp and Apple and techniques to evoke emotional connection through design.

Key findings

  • There are three levels of feelings visceral, behavioural and reflective.
  • Emotional design occurs at the reflective level.
  • Emotional design doesn't work if it's not genuine.
Emotional design - Donald A. Norman Designing for Emotion - Book by Aarron Walter


As this was a short university project, the time to conduct primary research was limited. The personas are based on interviews with friends and family and influenced by secondary market research.

Three personas were created, each represents a potential target user group. The three personas: the millenial, affluent and international visitors.

Key findings

  • People between the ages of 16-24 are the most frequent visitors to shopping malls.
  • Oversees visitors to shopping malls has increased significantly in recent years due to the weak currency.
  • Affluent people stick with brands they already use and prefer to buy from the brands they know.
examplar persona examplar persona



A low-fidelity paper prototype was created to test key functions and flows of the application, the purpose was to highlight any problems early before spending a large amount of time on the design.

The low-fidelity of the prototype meant that during testing, participants were focused on the flow rather than the aesthetics. The changes and issues could be addressed made in real-time by drawing a new screen which meant problems could be rectified and re-tested in the same session.

Key findings

  • Drawing the wireframes meant changes could be made in real-time, even during testing.
  • Low fidelity wireframes helped focus the attention of the flow instead of the size of buttons and fonts.
Prototype screenshot


The style tile documents elements of the brand such as the company logo, colours, fonts and accessibility considerations like colour contrast and font sizing.

I created a persona for the brand, inspired by Arron Walter who recommends to create a design persona in his book Designing for emotion. The brand persona gives examples of the voice, traits, personality and engagement methods.

Key findings

  • The use of a style tile meant the brand was consistent and provided a useful reference to elements of the brand such as colours and fonts.
  • Colour can play an important role in achieving an emotional design.
  • Having a brand persona gave the application a personality: luxury, tasteful and professional demonstrated in its design, content and interactions.
Persona of the brand Persona of the brand



The high-fidelity wireframes were created using sketch and imported into InVision. Interactions and flows were added to the wireframes to make it a prototype.

The prototype demonstrated all of the proposed functionality designed to evoke emotion such as the location-based advertisements which are tailored to a users location. The prototype also contained the common functionality that users would expect from a luxury retailers app from the store directory to opening times.


  • Reward scheme - customers are rewarded for every penny they spend in the mall regardless of the outlet.
  • Favourites - allows users to save their favourite outlets.
  • Purchase history - return items easily by scanning a QR code and storing product warranties.
  • Smart advertisements - special discounts will appear based on a user's preferences and their location within the mall.
High fidelity prototype - Invision



This project allowed me to explore emotional design and understand how it can be used to create meaningful experiences/products which people remember and re-use.

This was a University project and achieved very high marks, but unfortunately, the final prototype wasn't tested with a large enough audience to measure its effectiveness in achieving an emotional design. I have learnt a lot during the project and the lessons learnt will allow me to create better experiences in the future.