“The” User is not a Thing

Don’t forget that users are also human beings. E.g. people who shop online, have motivations and emotions – MotiMotions

Users not only have needs and requirements regarding the products they want to purchase, or regarding the platform which they are using. Also, personas are often only referring to the users’ sociodemographic characteristics and their key tasks they have to/want to perform, when interacting with our platform, in (a) specific scenario(s).

A thing/system may be usable and enjoyable or not. Keeping the users’ motivations and emotions in mind, makes things sometimes appear in a different light.

Users’ basic MotiMotions

Let’s compare some basic motivations and emotions exemplarily before we make a cut set.

Motivations Emotions
Users want to Find a solution fitting their nees(s) Users love Fast loading pages
Understand the solution and offer Completing tasks / being rewarded
Purchase a product Good design
Users have to Fill out forms Users hate to Wait
Give consent to the usage of cookies Fill out forms
Purchase a product Being distracted by ads

If you’ve taken a closer look at the motivations you may have noticed, that “Purchase a product” was mentioned twice. This is an example of how motivations may differ. On the one hand, they may be originated more intrinsic. E.g. purchase a certain product to fulfill a long-cherished wish. On the other hand, the motivation to purchase a product may have a more extrinsic origin. E.g. purchasing a product to fulfill a job’s requirement.

Same but more complex for “Fill out forms”. It’s motivated (extrinsic) and it triggers emotions (hate). They hate it but they have to. Motivation and emotion are reciprocal. But now let’s see how users’ motivations and emotions merge.

The Cut Set

Users will always hate to fill out forms (negative emotion), but they have to (extrinsic motivation) in order to purchase a product online. Badly usable forms exponentiate the effect of the negative emotion about filling out forms online.

Mostly it’s when negative emotions and extrinsic motivations merge, where we can help users. UXers may positively influence the users’ MotiMotions:

  • Design highly usable forms -> allow users to complete their tasks quickly and without friction and frustration
  • Users hate to wait -> shorten perceived loading time -> keep them in an active mode
  • Users hate ads -> only offer well-dosed and relevant things, by knowing your target users and their needs
  • Users have to give consent to the usage of cookies -> privacy by design

This was a short introduction to the interplay of motivations and emotions. Sometimes, for example, it’s not about shortening form fields at any cost. It often maybe only a matter of context, relevance, and usability.


Credits: Thanks Colorlib for sharing the Top 32 Adobe Illustrator Icon Sets in 2018 from which this article’s visual was composed.