Optimizing your Small Business Website for Emotional Design (UI/UX)

Written by: Jabari Thompson

A rising entrepreneur who started from freelance web design. Jabari works with NJ small businesses and nonprofits to increase their search presence.
Updated on: February 05, 2023

Definition of emotional design and its importance in web design and SEO

Emotions shape human behavior and decision-making everyday. Emotional design is the use of design elements

and content to create an emotionally appealing website for users. Another way to look at emotional design is the

popular term UI/UX design. UI/UX is an abbreviation for user interface/user experience design. UI design focuses on

providing a visually appealing interaction with the user and your small business website. UX design focuses on

having a website designed for emotional appeal, which can lead to higher user engagements, lower bounce rates,

and greater conversion rates. Having a UI/UX design improves your website’s E-E-A-T factors, which will improve

your website’s ranking on Google.  Additionally, a website that elicits positive emotions can increase the likelihood

of users sharing the site with others, which can lead to increased backlinks and organic traffic.

Explanation of how emotions affect user engagement and behavior

The design of a website can evoke emotions through the use of color, typography, and other design elements. Many

of these factors are found in optimizing your technical SEO. Fixing your site’s UI/UX involves using HTML, Javascript,

and CSS formatting to create a responsive and user-friendly website that helps users get to the information,

product, or content they are looking for on your site a lot faster. By making these changes you will be able to track

your user engagement progress. When users are emotionally in sync with your site’s branding and structure, you

will see your bounce rate decrease. Meaning that your users are spending more time on your web pages.  You’ll also

see an increase in your CTR (click-thru rate), which suggest users are spending more time clicking through your

pages and engaging with content. So, I’m sure you are eager to learn more about emotional design and how to

apply it to your site. Let’s go over a few common elements to optimize when designing your site for intended



Could you imagine if the world was in black and white??? No, me neither. The use of color plays a significant part in

our lives and emotions, it should also play a key role on your website. Colors should appeal to your brand and the

overall message/feel you want your website to present. Understanding which colors to use, means you need to

know what certain colors are meant to suggest. Here are a few examples…

Blue: Trust, Reassurance, Calmness

  • Good color to use for financial service websites, social platform websites, and law firm websites

Green: Growth, Wealth, Environment, Health

  • Good color to use for an eco-friendly clothing brand, non-profit website teaching youth how to manage money, or the website for a local juice bar.

White: Cleanness, Simplicity 

  • Good color to use for any website, you can use it as a complement to any other color as well 

Black: Power, Sophistication, Formality

  • Good color to use for a suit tailor business website or a formal event planning website, can also be used as a complement to another color

Orange: Creativity, Energy

  • Good color to use for a fitness brand website or a learning center’s website

By identifying the message that you want your target audience to receive, you can select a color based on that

message. This establishes an immediate connection with your website users as soon as they see the site’s landing



Another main element for your website’s emotional aesthetic is font. You should maintain one or (AT MOST) two

consistent fonts throughout your website. Font types can be broken into three different categories. 

Serif Fonts

Serif fonts are used for businesses that emphasize professionalism and formality. Serif fonts work well for law

practice websites, publishing company websites, news websites 

Sans Serif Fonts

Sans serif fonts are very popular due to their clean and modernistic look. Many of our favorite apps and websites use

Sans serif fonts. Start-ups in any field, and technology product/service based websites are prime users of sans serif


Script Fonts

Script fonts can be used for both formal and casual businesses. A script font can be used for the website of your

hometown bakery or a sneaker resale website. Make sure that the script font that you choose to use can be read by

your website users.


Buttons are cool! Everyone likes to press a button and know for a fact that something is going to happen. You can

apply this to your website with CSS formatting. You can edit the styling of a button element to make users aware

that they have pressed or hovered over a button on your website. Contact your website designer/developer to

strategize UI/UX strategies to optimize your website buttons. 


Images and videos are a large part of all of our website content as small businesses. Sliders are an engaging feature

for users as sliders can be designed to be 3D and have other cool features that make the user’s experience

memorable. Be sure that your sliders have clear navigation to the next slide. 


Animations are another engaging feature of a website that many websites use for user experience. Though you

don’t want to animate everything on your website, animation may serve well when new elements come into play as

the user is scrolling (fade-in effect, bounce effect, or slide-in effect).

Navigation and Layout

Have you ever gone in circles on a website because the button you pressed just led to the home page? If you have,

I’m sure you may have been very annoyed by that experience. Effective navigation and layout of a website is key in

user experience for your small business website. Your content should be structured in a way that effectively uses

categories, tags, and other elements to group similar content together. You can also accomplish this grouping in

your navigation bar as well. With a “main tab” such as about that has “sub-tabs” underneath it (mission, blog, our

team). You can group similar content on your site and make it easier for users to find. 


From the time we are young, many of us are introduced to the nightly bedtime stories. Everyone likes a good story.

Whether it’s a story of triumph, a story of creation, or a story of an event, we as people cherish good stories. So why

not include them on your website??  Storytelling in web design can involve incorporating narrative elements,

transitional phrases, and images to create a story. For example, a website for a clothing brand could use storytelling

to show the journey of the clothes from the initial design to production, highlighting the unique features and

benefits of each item. Storytelling can also involve creating a consistent brand identity and tone of voice, which can

help build a strong connection with the user. This can be achieved through the use of consistent visual elements,

font, and language throughout the website, as discussed earlier.

Tools/Resources for Emotional Design/(UI/UX)

Now that you have a solid arsenal of emotional design elements to use, let’s go over some tools that can help you

with optimizing your website and testing your UI/UX design!

Adobe XD

A user experience design software that provides a platform for prototyping, wireframing and designing



A cloud-based UI design and collaboration tool that enables designers to work together in real-time.

A/B Testing Tools

Tools such as VWO and Google Optimize, allow designers to test different versions of a design to

determine which version has the strongest emotional response from users.

Empathy Map

An example of an Empathy Map used for emotional design (UI/UX)
Empathy Map Example

A visual tool that helps teams understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of their users. It consists of four

quadrants: what users see, what they hear, what they feel, and what they do.

Recap: Optimizing your Small Business Website for Emotional Design (UI/UX)

In summary, emotions play a crucial role in shaping user behavior and engagement, and a website’s design can

greatly impact the emotions that a user experiences. By considering the emotional impact of design elements, web

designers can create a more engaging and memorable experience for users, which can lead to increased

engagement and conversions.


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