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The other day I walked by my two-year-old. He was whining a bit and pointing to a spot on his arm. With a sort of pitiful, whiny voice, I could barely make out his words: “boo-boo… I got boo-boo”. Without even thinking, as if by instinct, I asked him “Want me to kiss your boo-boo?” Without hesitation he said yes, and offered me his arm. I puckered up and kissed an invisible wound. Immediately he was healed and ran off laughing and playing.

I stood there and asked myself “What just happened?”, “Why did that work?”, and more importantly, “Why did I think it would work?” Admit it, if you have children, you’ve done the exact same thing. Unless the wound needed obvious medical care, you have offered to kiss a boo-boo. But why? Why do we offer to kiss a wound, and why does it nearly always work? A kiss is technically and physiologically meaningless, and yet with my two year old it seemed to be a miracle worker. It’s like a psychological bandaid.

You may think this has nothing to do with design, or web sites, or video production, but you’d be wrong. This little example gives us great insight into how we relate to one another and how we perceive the world. At a core level, we all want to bring comfort and care to others. Likewise, we have needs that we want comforted and cared for.

I’m always interested in the things that bring us comfort. Some draw comfort from a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter day. It reminds them of a simpler time. Others draw comfort from lounging in the sun on a cool afternoon. The warmth of the sun on their skin and a cool breeze in their hair wisps them away from their current reality to a place of relaxation.

Our designs and art should be like this. Something that takes people from their current reality and connects with them on an emotional and intellectual level. Something that speaks to them, grabs their attention, and says “I get you”. Do you design with this in mind? You should. The next time you design or create, think about kissing boo-boos. How you will connect with your audience?

Do you kiss boo-boos in your line of work? Tell us about it in the comments!