Danny Hearn

Measuring emotion at Burberry

I was part of the team with Clearleft, a design agency, to help redesign the burberry.com checkout with the role of a user researcher.  The challenge was to create a modern website checkout that evoked the Burberry brand.  The Burberry team needed confidence that customers felt like it was a Burberry experience. I needed to find a way to uncover and present evidence of this emotional story.

It was important that my research gave confidence that customers would find it simple and easy and critically, feel like it is a Burberry experience.

A website’s checkout has a primary function; to get people through the final hurdle of the purchase journey. So they are typically sparse and free of distractions. Our process for designing an effective checkout for a business with a deep brand DNA needed a strong connection with people’s emotional perceptions.

Measuring and quantifying emotion

A great tool to measure and quantify emotion (that UX researcher James Chapman introduced to me at John Lewis) is the Bipolar Emotional Response Technique (BERT).  It works by asking users to rate their level of emotional response by comparing two adjectives together.

At Burberry, it was essential that customers feel and perceive the checkout experience as consistent with their brand. To give the stakeholders confidence that our early designs achieved this, we mapped out adjectives the brand identified with and aspired to.  Using these keywords, we needed to create contrasting adjectives.
For example, Premium vs Budget, Clear vs Confusing, Speedy vs Sluggish.  The test works by placing both adjectives on either end of a scale and asking users where they would place their feelings. 

Each week the team was developing a new prototype of the checkout design.  My role was to test this prototype with a fresh set of test participants we recruited each week. 

I gave the participants an imaginary scenario

You have a wedding this weekend, it’s going to rain, so you need a new coat for the event.  You’ve found something you like, try to buy this coat and get it before the weekend.

As I was only testing the checkout, I could skip the browse/decision aspect.  I observed them as they attempted to checkout with an item in the bag on our interactive prototype.

During the test, I gathered useful insights on how participants understood and proceeded through the journey.  At the end of the test, I would ask participants where their feelings were best represented on the scale.

I.e. do you feel the checkout was ‘speedy’ or sluggish, Budget or premium?  Whenever a participant rated an adjective strongly, either way, I would ask them to help me understand why they felt that way.  This was also a useful part of the process that gave me further insights.

As I tested more participants each week, I started to track emotional perceptions against design decisions.  So, for example, participants rated the checkout as generally in the ‘confusing region’.   As we learnt from the insights gathered we tweaked the prototype.  We could then see immediate emotional feedback with the subsequent tests showing the ‘confusing’ score  moving towards ‘Clear’.  

Sharing this moving trend with stakeholders each week was vital in giving them confidence that the design was going in the right direction.  Crucially they felt reassured as it was customers rating the ‘Premium feel’ highly.

Tracking the emotion

First checkout prototype BERT scores
6th checkout prototype BERT scores

Testing the water for emotional trends

While this is not a deeply scientific tool, it can give you a sense of where the feelings are for prototypes and designs.  It’s a way of testing the water and giving some level of measurement to peoples emotions.  Which you can also benchmark and track over time.