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Emotional design

Designs that evoke emotions build meaningful relationships with customers. When we design with emotions in mind, customers are more likely to feel they’re working with a team, not just software. We strive to build relationships that last for years, not just one successful click-through.

We empathize, we reassure, and we sometimes even surprise and delight. We positively affect customers, without resorting to overpromising, manipulation, or being saccharine.

Put customer benefits above business goals

At Intuit, we care about our customers and helping them prosper—Customer Obsession is one of our company values. We focus on building a relationship with them over just trying to sell them something. When we create content, we emphasize customer benefits over business goals.

When we’re engaged in emotional design, we’re thinking about the customer’s needs, not revenue metrics and click-through rates. We want customers to see the benefits of what we have to offer, not feel manipulated.

  • We can help you grow your small business—and we’ll be with you every step of the way

Customers should feel supported and that we have products that can help their business and their needs.

  • Have you tried this amazing new feature from our world-class product? Only an extra $35/mo

We never want customers to feel like we’re trying to upsell them or squeezing as much revenue as we can from them.

Watch your tone

Use a tone that inspires or accommodates customers’ emotions. We respect our customers’ moods, and don’t tell them how to feel. We acknowledge when something might be challenging.

  • We know change can be hard. We’re here for you.

If you know your audience has concerns, acknowledge them.

  • Great news! Your payroll system is modernizing.

Don’t assume change is great news.

  • We simplify every part of getting paid, so you can focus on what matters.
  • Run your business with confidence, so you can focus on what’s ahead.

Let customers know the benefit.

  • You’re going to love our payroll solution!

Don’t tell customers how they’re going to feel.

  • Don’t worry, we got you covered

In a low-stakes situation, saying don’t worry can be a helpful reassurance.

  • Don’t worry, only you can see this

In serious situations, you should avoid don’t worry because you might cause unnecessary worry.

If you remove don’t worry and the content still works, then you don’t need to say it.

Beware of superlatives

Superlatives (most, best, top, fastest, ultimate, premier, most-trusted) often ring alarm bells for customers, diminishing trust. And really, it tends to sound a bit desperate. Don’t use language like “world-class.” If you’re world class, you don’t have to say it. And when you claim you’re the best (without providing data), you invite customers to question. 

Here’s a good measurement: If the opposite of what you’re suggesting is something we would never say, then you might be using hype. For example, we’d never say that one of our products or services is low quality. Therefore, we don’t have to say “high quality.”

“Good” often works better than “great.” “Good” gets the job done. “Great” might be overselling something, or come across as too expensive for what the customer really needs.

Facts are always better than superlatives or subjective opinions. If QuickBooks is the best financial software according to some respected source, we should talk about it. (Don’t forget to cite the source and run it by legal.)

Intuit customers are smart people. They’ll see through the hype. 

  • We’ll take good care of your team
  • The right tools, right from the start

These examples sound like a conversation.

  • We’ll take great care of your team
  • The best tools from the get-go

Superlatives sound like a sales pitch.

  • Pay your team with the #1 payroll service provider

Based on overall numbers of customers for QuickBooks payroll products as of 06/2022

Back up bold claims with data.

Make the most of microcopy

Don’t miss the little opportunities, like tiny pieces of content that take less than 20 seconds to read. Often they’re quickly explaining why we’re doing something.

A human-sounding voice with an opportunity to discover is compelling.

  • We use cookies for sign in and checkout. Learn more

Learn can sound like a burden.


We know a lot about customers when they’re signed in. Show them we know who they are and what they might need by suggesting products, services, and features that are tailored to their situation.

  • You have employees, we have payroll. Let’s make payday a breeze.

This is a business opportunity, not just an upsell.

  • If you have employees, we have payroll. Let’s make payday a breeze.

If is the difference here. If you don’t know if a customer is eligible for a product or service, don’t show it to them. It looks like we don’t care enough about the customer or their business to get the details right.

Delight when it’s right

Make customers smile at the right moment. When it feels natural, we sprinkle in a bit of charm or use a metaphor to simplify a complex idea.

Delight isn’t just for celebratory moments. When customers are in the middle of a complicated process, a little delight—which acknowledges the situation—might be just what they need.

Know your audience and when they expect us to be more straightforward. There are times when we need to be serious or when humor wouldn’t be appropriate, like in help articles or when we have disappointing info to share.

See also: Celebrations, Bad news

Don’t shame or manipulate

We shouldn’t make customers feel bad about saying no. Don’t use confirm-shaming copy (for example, a button that says “I don’t want to save 15%”). And don’t use tactics that try to get customers to do something they’ve told us they don’t want to do. That’s not who we are.

It’s OK to let customers know how a choice they’re making might affect how they use the product, but we should always respect their choice.

See also: Confirmations

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