Stop ignoring products’ feelings.

Products have feelings. Don’t complicate this: A product cannot deliver more than one (overall) feeling. Everything with the product either will add to that one feeling or take away from it. With that being said, there are three points about this topic.

1:

Trying to explain what a feeling is, is like attempting to explain a color. You either know what it is or you don’t. But there are some things that are clear to what contributes to a feeling.

To start off, listen to these two versions of these two songs:

and

… There are many more songs with a drastic feel difference (like this and this). The reason this is here, is that they are fundamentally the same songs, they have the same lyrics, but their message and feeling is completely different.

Point:

The difference between those songs is the foundation of this post. Because it’s hard to explain in words what a feeling is, those songs are the easiest way to explain it — so go listen to them again if it didn’t click. You have to just know what it means when I say “feel.”

Just to clarify and give some examples: good or bad, happy or sad, productive or lazy… it’s usually one feeling… it’s often unnoticed, but it’s just there.

2:

Products can have amazing features, amazing design, and find the right market fit, but if the product has the wrong feeling, there will be nothing. And if the feeling is ignored, there will be even less.

If you don’t understand the why of your product, no one else will.

The feel isn’t designing, sounds, interactions, or at a specific feature set; it isn’t any one thing. It’s the harmony of everything working together to help the user understand why they are using the product. Which is expressed every time they use it (whether aware or not). It’s the little things and features, the little attention to the smallest of details. Which, yes, while may not make a user use the product in the first place, can be the difference between that person loving your product or not. Plus, more importantly, why they continue to use your product and recommend it.

In the movie Objectified, a designer said it the best, “You wouldn’t expect anyone to point to small features and say ‘this is why I bought the product,’ but when you see it, you know [the person who made it] considered [the] solution.”

I’m a bit on the obsessive side with this stuff. Constantly timing new animations, how it makes me feel, how long things take to load, work, send, receive, notify, etc. It’s almost immediate when using a product, whether it will be successful or not. You will just know, and get the feeling at times that, “these people spent a lot of time making this right.” I promise you, that extra work you put into making that animation.02 seconds faster or slower, or making that button a little more playful, will be worth it. We are far past the age of purely functional products.

Everything you do will be noticed by those who care, and felt by everyone else.

Point:

Obsess over everything; make everything go to a single feeling.

Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details.
— William Feather

3:

Figure out the feeling. Do it now. Make everything filter through that feeling. It should come off seamless to the purpose of your product — not an afterthought.

Do you want people to feel safe? Open? Playful? Goofy? Serious? Controlled? Free? Productive? Informed? Connected? Serious? What is your feeling?

For example: When making a banking app, the bank doesn’t want to have playful animations that people expect from a chat app, they don’t want to have a sarcastic tone in the diction used, or vibrant colors, or a layout that mimics a social network. They want the user to feel serious (their bank isn’t clowning around with their money), the bank isn’t going anywhere, that the user is informed, what they see is clear and up to date, and that they’re in control (of their money, life, etc.). They want everything to funnel through a main feel, let’s say, control and then some sub-feels like serious and clear throughout the banking app. That can go into making harsher sound effects, blander colors, quicker animations, maybe an app with less features, less gimmicks. There should be no taking the user through fun and unique experiences that would normally delight a user in a social app.

Too many people think they understand their users, and what feel, how they feel, and the feeling they should give off with their product. Most, get it completely wrong. It’s easy to understand the superficial feelings, but hard to understand the root. Understanding the core root of the users' feelings, not just the superficial feelings, can cause the feeling you should be making change.

For example: When talking to small businesses, the superficial reason they want their employees to work better/faster/stronger is because they’re “tired of managing them,” or “wasting money on them,” or “bad customer experiences.” But when you keep talking to them a realization becomes apparent that they really just want their business to make enough money to pay off their loans, spend more time with their family, and save for their kids' college. Which would mean the feel of a small business app, for a small business owner, shouldn’t be so corporate, should be a bit more happy, quick, simple interface, safe, secure, etc.… which we see is becoming a trend in small business apps — after years of corporate feel in their apps and products.

“When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” — Futurama

Point:

Understand who the user is, understand why they are using the product, and understand what the product will make the them feel when they stop using the product… every time.

So…

There are always more little details that can be looked at, there is always more to understand, and a lot more examples. But the purpose of this, was a fairly selfish one. I’m really tired of using products that ignore me, and how it makes me feel. I want to enjoy every product I use. I want the product's purpose to be clear every time I use it. I want to understand why I’m using their product and not someone else's.

Make me addicted to how your product makes me feel.

I want more products to be successful. Focus on your feel, follow your gut on this stuff. Your product loves you, love it back. You got this.


I’m currently the CEO @ Tribe. I’m an award winning designer by Mac|Life, been published here and there on stuff I’ve done… but who cares. At Tribe we’re making some really incredible products. We’re always discovering and working on new things. If this was useful, recommend it, comment, heart it, whatever ya do. We love reading everyone’s articles here! Thank you. Keep being awesome.