Emotions in Design – a Professional Workshop Led by Dr. Jacob Greenspan

At the end of October 2022, the day before the elections for the 25th Knesset, all of us at Salant ID Studio gathered together with one of our clients for the past three and a half years (since in 2019), the Tipalti company, for a one-of-a-kind professional workshop in which we put emotion at the center of the design process and discussed the important question of how the user feels when coming into contact with any digital system. The workshop lasted all day and included pampering in the new offices of the Tipalti company in Naot Afeka, Tel Aviv.

מתוך כתבה באתר סטודיו סלנט איי די (SalantID): Emotions in design - סדנה מקצועית בהובלתו של ד"ר יעקב גרינשפן

Dr. Jacob Greenspan during his lecture to our studio and the Tipalti company offices

Moderator – Dr. Yaakov Greenspan

The workshop was conducted by the one and only Dr. Jacob Greenspan who has been involved in the field of characterizing user interfaces for over 20 years. After completing his doctoral studies in the field at the Technion, Jacob together with Gil Huppert Graf founded the company UI. A decade later, when the company grew to over 50 employees, he turned towards a new path. In the last decade, Yaakov has characterized concepts for user interfaces for large as well as small companies and teaches several courses in the field of UX at Reichman University for both bachelor’s and master’s degree studies. In addition, Yaakov accompanies startups and gives lectures and workshops in Israel, in Southeast Asia and Latin America. During the past three years, Yaakov has participated in supporting dozens of startups promoted by Google’s Startups Growth Lab program in Israel and Japan.

Udi, the director of our studio, has known Dr. Greenspan for many years, starting with a course he took with him in 1998 as part of a degree in human factors engineering at the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) and ending with joint membership in the Google global mentoring group led by Dr. Greenspan.

From theory to practice — applying emotions and design on our projects

Jacob accompanied us throughout the day through lectures and sessions on our products that we are working on in real time in order to see how we can apply what we have learned in the field. As part of the workshop, we focused our energy on improving and upgrading existing designs, this time with the main focus being the emotion that arises in the user during the experience on the various screens and how to maximize a positive emotion and prevent a negative emotion whenever necessary.

We worked in small teams to implement the methods we learned from the workshop

Dr. Greenspan explaining psychological theories about arousal level divided into types of emotions

Some relevant psychological background

First we started with a variety of psychological theories that explain how to classify an emotion and understand what types of emotions exist (for your information – there are six main types of emotions and another considerable amount of secondary emotions). We learned that emotion can move along two parallel axes – pleasant or unpleasant and more or less stimulating. We learned that it is necessary to think at each stage of the process what emotion I want to evoke in my users at a given moment and from that to encourage the users in the right direction (for example a combination of fun and a sense of security in the system will lead to a feeling of sympathy and love for the system).

Emotion in user testing

We learned about the importance of first impressions and that it is always accompanied by actual biological emotions, and about how cultural differences influence the way people experience and express emotions differently. We continued and talked about the importance of user testing and the need to read not only a user’s actions, but also their feelings, which are expressed in expressions, body movements, words, and tone of voice. Dr. Greenspan proposed a tool to use when performing these tests that emphasizes the gap between what needs to be known and what the user actually knows. We continued to talk about the fact that most negative feelings arise in response to a lack of understanding and knowledge and therefore our role as UX and UI designers is to make sure there are as few moments like this as possible, especially given how we learned that negative emotions are usually better remembered than positive emotions.

Tiplati members presented their work as part of the workshop (the screen has been blurred to maintain confidentiality)

Experimenting with the “Emotional Think Aloud” tool (which was harder than it looks!)

Measuring emotion

After a short break, we talked about ways to measure emotions, including through questionnaires that ask users to describe what they experienced in retrospect; through active speech that focuses on the emotion the user experiences while performing the task (using the emotional think aloud technique); and much more.

We learned that in whenever measuring a user’s emotion, it is necessary to examine positive emotions and negative emotions and that one does not cancel out the other – mixed emotions can arise at the same time at varying levels.

We practiced all the exercises suggested by Dr. Greenspan in real time and in small groups on an existing project that we had already been working on in the studio. This is how we actually understood how to apply these principles to our work in practice, a very important tool that we all took away from the workshop.

Social bonding

The day passed pleasantly and we learned a lot. We also enjoyed the combination of the people who were present in the room and the combined work between members of our studio, the employees of Tipalti and Dr. Jacob Greenspan himself. We have actual accompanied and assisted Tipalti in UX/UI design from its first days, in 2019, when it operated as a startup company and had about 40 employees. Today the company stands at about 800 employees and is defined as a unicorn company.

Some of our employees at the studio who are on maternity leave also came, so it was actually a double celebration to meet them as well. We highly recommend this workshop to anyone looking for a special, meaningful and educational workshop which will raise your products one level above all others.

See our previous work with the Tipalti company

Combining forces – Udi Salant, director of the Salant ID studio, and Adi Sali, Senior Design Director from the Tipalti company

If you are interested in hearing some lectures by Dr. Jacob Greenspan, you can watch from here

Want to hear personally about how to adapt the process to your needs? Talk to us!

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