The ELIZA Effect: A Lesson in Human-Centred Design

Jennifer Metcalfe By Jennifer Metcalfe April 6, 2018 1 min

Every human interaction is emotional: delightful, surprising, uncomfortable, stressful. It’s the truth that human-centred design is based on.

And it’s no different with technology.

You’re convinced the computer crashes itself whenever you’re doing important work. That the tinny voice of automated customer support just oozes sarcasm.

Or that Siri shares your sense of humour. That Sophia the robot friendzones people without mercy (watch her date with Will Smith here).

You blame, berate, laugh with and love them all as if they were another person. This is called the ELIZA effect.

Emotions and empathy are built into us as humans: we naturally give and expect it in return.

So if lines of code can elicit such a strong emotional response, shouldn’t brands made up of living, breathing people be doing the same (and more)?

Now more than ever, people are frustrated by ill-fitting, impersonal experiences. With crude tech and design that obstructs our path in doing something, and with brands that don’t speak to and understand them as humans.

All of which can be solved for with a human-centred design approach.

By putting people at the centre of designing brands, experiences and products, we can elicit all the right emotions: excitement, satisfaction, gratitude, and even connection.

Designing this effect is what brings your brand closer to your customers.

Which is what we call the Eliza_ effect.

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