The Problem

Effectively communicating emotions is difficult even when all three channels of communication, visual, vocal, and verbal, are available. When we are texting, we are only left with a limited version of verbal, with modified sentence structures and grammar. So is it even possible to communicate the intended emotions through text? Fascinated by emotion information loss in text-based communication, I did an investigation on the problem.

User Studies

I designed and iterated the interview questions three times to ensure unbias answers. I then conducted 49 interviews with students on the campus of the University of Florida.

Full Interview


From the interview results, I extracted some quantifiable information as part of the analysis, and created 2 personas.

Detailed Personas

Result & Mockups

Based on user studies and personas, I designed a two-layer gesture-based method to add emotional tags onto the messages. Users with intentions to send an “emotive text” would hold down the send button to activate more options to send the message. Users intended to send a quick message would be able to bypass the emotive text feature by clicking on the send button as they normally would.

Users would then be able to slide their held down finger up to the differnt colors, and depending on where user let go of their touch, the text message would be send with that desired color.

Color was the first emotive tag to be prototyped as it was the most popular from the user studies. Exact shades of color were yet to be perfected. Ideal colors schemes should sublty convey the emotional intention without being a distraction to the text message itself.

Known design issue with colors

  1. Drastically different interpretations of color meaning exist among users, especially users from different culture.

  2. While most participants liked color as an emotive tag, those that didn’t had very strong opinions.