Focus on user’s emotions if you want to make better software

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Software development is a complex business. Clever solutions to technically challenging software engineering problems is what it has been about for a long time. But the digital natives that are now almost in their early twenties, are used to different things. Clever solutions aplenty, what makes the difference between these young people tossing an application, or falling in love with it?


I love architecture. One of the reasons I do is because it is inherently about creation. And like all professions, there are bad architects, mediocre architects and good architects. But the ones I care about are the great architects.

What separates the great from the merely good, is the way they approach their work. It is more about design than it is about putting in place a building. Great architects think about how their building is experienced by the people that use it and see it. And that is exactly what makes Norman Foster so special.

Norman Foster

The way I discovered Norman Foster was actually very unlike me. I was flipping the channels on the TV late at night, something I almost never do. Actually, I hardly watch any television at all.

But somehow I stumbled onto this documentary about Norman Foster, called “How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster?”. The title alone grabbed my attention, and for the next hour and a half I was completely bound to the TV.

The whole movie can be bought on the website

It is not about architecture

What I like about the vision that Norman Foster has, is that it focuses on the user. And more specifically, on the user’s emotions. Rarely does Foster talk about technical impossibilities or clever technical solutions. Nor does he focus on the shapes and materials. All of these aspects come forth from the desired emotion Norman wants to instill in people that interact with his creation.

It is not about software

So if architecture is not about architecture … then why is software still so much about software? As software product companies, we must focus more on the emotions the user experiences as they use our software. While this is already being done by smaller software products, the bigger enterprise applications are vastly behind. We always add more features, build clever technical solutions. That is what we are good at. It is time to start considering the user’s emotions, because ultimately, whether it is architecture or software, that is what makes people fall in love with something.

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