Design User Experience Web Design

Boost User Attention, Memory, and Mood by Using Faces In Design

Woman with her hands on her hips laughing

By Andres Zapata \ November 13, 2018

Our brains are biologically programmed to attend to human faces.

A study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied, Suboptimal Exposure to Facial Expressions When Viewing Video Messages From a Small Screen: Effects on Emotion, Attention, and Memory, used facial electromyography (EMG) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia as physiological measures of emotion and attention. The researchers found that embedding human faces in designs will help make mobile content more likely to be attended.

In a world where our attention is under constant assault and is split by visual, auditory, and haptic stimuli, knowing that including human faces in our designs might hold the user’s attention for a little longer is gold. Using human faces in our work turns out to be a simple and powerful design tool.

The study further suggests that happy faces, in particular, boosts recall, likability, and credibility of the content consumed on mobile devices — and presumably, also on larger screens.

Reference

Ravaja, N., Kallinen, K., Saari, T., & Keltikangas-Jarvinen, L. (2004). Suboptimal Exposure to Facial Expressions When Viewing Video Messages From a Small Screen: Effects on Emotion, Attention, and Memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied, 10(2), 120–131. Retrieved from http://proxy-ub.researchport.umd.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ688660&site=eds-live

Andres Zapata
Executive Vice President of Strategy, Co-founder
Andres Zapata
Executive Vice President of Strategy, Co-founder

Andres isn’t like most EVPs or co-founders. He’s responsible for the operations and direction of idfive, but he’s also the door-always-open, huevos-rancheros-making leader who’ll help you when the wifi isn’t working. A lifetime learner and multifaceted professional, Andres has more than 20 years of experience leading projects for clients in various industries. He believes in the power of research and data to create something beautiful that can do something good.