Innovationbubble was assigned by HTC to investigate whether good design makes people happy.

The project was run globally in 7 different countries with more than 2000 participants.


HTC wanted to evidence what had the most impact on customer handset buying behaviour: phone pragmatics (battery life, memory etc) or aesthetic design (beauty, weight, shape, feel etc).

Our work

Phase 1: testing the effect of good design on participants’ happiness and creativity under laboratory conditions. We investigated the following physiological experiences:

  • Mood profiling via standardised scientific psychometric testing
  • Emotional engagement (tested and evidence by measuring galvanic skin response)
  • Arousal levels (tested and evidence by heart rate)

Physiological experiences, such as heart rate are automatic behaviours not under our conscious control. As a result we are more confident that this data is ‘real’ and uncontaminated by social pressure or expectancy effects.

Participants were screened in terms of their mood profiles, emotional engagement and arousal levels when they first entered the laboratory. Participants were then randomly assigned to engage with a variety of product groups:

  1. objects that were beautiful but lacked function
  2. objects that were not beautiful but had high function
  3. objects that were either beautiful and functional.

Participants mood, engagement and arousal levels were measured throughout these physical interactive sessions. We then compared the output on these behavioural and emotional readings across each of these product groups.

Phase 2: We conducted online tests using our bespoke measuring tool Emotix, specially tailored to investigate whether good design facilitates creativity and makes people happier.

Phase 3: We ran insight groups to uncover participants’ thoughts and feelings about functional, beautiful and functional-beautiful objects.


Results from both the non conscious and physiological behavioural measures predicted that phone aesthetics is a stronger predictor of consumer positive emotional engagement and probable purchase decisions than phone practical characteristics were.

We found that beautiful and functional phones increased the participants’ happiness and contentment, which in turn increased their propensity to engage with the brand/product.

The research also revealed that although people stated that they searched and bought objects on functionality – the psychological profiling insights revealed that this was not true. Non consciously people placed beauty and aesthetics in terms of how it made them feel as their psychological engagement/purchase priority.

If you’d like to read more about our collaboration with HTC, please visit the link below