09/12/2023

Harnessing Carl Jung's 12 Archetypes in UX/UI Storytelling for User Journeys that Resonate with Deepest Desires

As a designer, one of my key responsibilities is identifying and understanding the typical users of the product. This involves creating fictitious characters, or personas, that align with specific behavioral, motivational, and interest-based stereotypes. By understanding these personas, we can anticipate and design for their needs and expectations, resulting in a more engaging and intuitive user experience.

One of the tools I use is the Jungian archetypes; a theory by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who introduced this concept to explain the universal patterns and roles that underlie human behavior. By assigning archetypes to each persona, we can build more complex and relatable character profiles that inform our design decisions. In storytelling, there are 12 recurrent persona types across the human experience that we can use as a starting point for our archetypal personas. By incorporating these archetypes into our persona-building process, we can create a more holistic understanding of our users and design products that resonate with their deepest motivations & desires.

Understanding the Psychology

In the vast tapestry of storytelling, be it in films, books, or the narrative of everyday life, we often find ourselves aligning with certain archetypal characters. Carl Jung’s 12 archetypes encapsulate these recurring personas across the human experience. Visualizing this concept, a chart emerges, with the archetypes encircling a central motif, representing shared outcomes.

Delving into the specifics, take the Ruler archetype, prevalent in the business landscape where CEOs and directors often reside. The main motivation of a Ruler archetype is to gain control. In the context of a website, this translates into providing them with ownership of their digital experience. Interestingly, the Ruler, Creator, and Caregiver archetypes share a common desired outcome—providing structure. This convergence offers a strategic opportunity in UX/UI design, allowing for the creation of cohesive and consistent experiences for individuals falling under these archetypes.

How to Use These in UX/UI Design Storytelling:

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if a website is designed without considering the needs and preferences of its users, can it truly provide a meaningful and engaging experience?” - Mango Alexander

UX/UI design, unlike traditional graphic design, aligns more closely with product design practices such as architecture, fashion, or automotive design. The emphasis lies in understanding the defined purpose of the product and catering to the needs of its users. A key practice I use involves creating fictitious personas and employing the “Snow White Effect.” This technique involves constructing scenarios based on personas to comprehend user goals and potential frustrations. Referencing the archetype chart, each archetype harbors a desired outcome. For instance, the Ruler, Creator, and Caregiver all seek to provide structure. Therefore, designs for these users should facilitate a well-structured user journey.

Contrastingly, the Lover archetype desires to build a connection. In the realm of UI design, this translates to fostering a connection between the user and the brand. Achieving this involves evocative design, creating a sense of connection and resonance between the user and the brand—a design that goes beyond aesthetics, aiming to forge a meaningful and emotional bond.

Creator

Definition: Innovative, imaginative, and artistic.
Objective: Innovation
Desired Outcome: Provide Structure
Typical Users: Marketing Directors, Artists, Creatives
Strengths: Creativity, willpower, conviction.
Weaknesses: Self-involvement, single-mindedness, overly idealistic.
Media Archetypical Examples: Pablo Picasso, Kanye West, Steve Jobs

Ruler

Definition: Legal or emotional power over others.
Objective: Control
Desired Outcome: Provide Structure
Typical Users: CEOs, Directors, Managers.
Strengths: Omnipotence, status, resources.
Weaknesses: Aloofness, disliked by others, out of touch.
Media Examples: Bernard Arnault, Barack Obama, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Caregiver

Definition: Empathetic, supportive, and altruistic.
Objective: Service
Desired Outcome: Provide Structure
Typical Users: Nurses, Therapists.
Weaknesses: Lacking personal ambition or leadership.
Media Examples: Mary Poppins, Florence Nightingale

Everyman

Definition: A relatable character who feels recognizable from daily life.
Objective: Belonging
Desired Outcome: Build a Connection
Typical Users: Doesn’t align with a specific job or profession
Strengths: Grounded, salt-of-the-earth, relatable.
Weaknesses: Lacking special powers, often unprepared for what’s to come.
Media Examples: Bilbo Baggins, Homer Simpson,

Jester

Definition: The entertainer who seeks enjoyment and laughter.
Objective: Enjoyment
Desired Outcome: Build a Connection
Typical Users: Comedians, Performers, Entertainers
Strengths: Humour, wit, spontaneity.
Weaknesses: Lack of seriousness, impulsiveness.
Media Examples: The Joker (Batman), Deadpool, Jim Carrey

Lover

Definition: The romantic lead who’s guided by the heart.
Objective: Intimacy
Desired Outcome: Build a Connection
Typical Users: Romantic individuals, Passionate individuals
Strengths: Humanism, passion, conviction.
Weaknesses: Naïveté, irrationality.
Media Examples: Romeo and Juliet, Belle (Beauty and the Beast),

Hero

Definition: Courageous and determined.
Objective: Mastery
Desired Outcome: Leave a Mark
Typical Users: Leaders, Innovators, Achievers
Strengths: Courage, determination, resilience.
Weaknesses: Hubris, overconfidence.
Media Examples: Neo (Matrix), Harry Potter, Captain America

Magician

Definition: Visionary and transformative.
Objective: Power
Desired Outcome: Leave a Mark
Typical Users: Visionaries, Scientists, Innovators, Engineers
Strengths: Visionary, transformative, charismatic.
Weaknesses: Manipulative, detached from reality.
Media Examples: Gandalf, Merlin (King Arthur), Albus Dumbledore

Outlaw

Definition: Nonconformist and rebellious.
Objective: Liberation
Desired Outcome: Leave a Mark
Typical Users: Rebels, Revolutionaries, Mavericks
Strengths: Nonconformity, rebellious spirit.
Weaknesses: Lawlessness, defiance.
Media Examples: Robin Hood, Han Solo, Wolverine

Explorer

Definition: Independent and curious.
Objective: Freedom
Desired Outcome: Seek Paradise
Typical Users: Adventurers, Journalists, Archeologists, Travellers
Strengths: Independence, curiosity, adaptability.
Weaknesses: Restlessness, impulsivity.
Media Examples: Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, Jack Sparrow

Sage

Definition: Wise and knowledgeable.
Objective: Understanding
Desired Outcome: Seek Paradise
Typical Users: Scholars, Philosophers, Teachers
Strengths: Wisdom, knowledge, introspection.
Weaknesses: Isolation, detachment.
Media Examples: Yoda, The Oracle (Matrix)

Innocent

Definition: Pure and optimistic.
Objective: Safety
Desired Outcome: Seek Paradise
Typical Users: Dreamers, Idealists, Optimists
Strengths: Purity, optimism, trust.
Weaknesses: Naïveté, vulnerability.
Media Examples: Cinderella, Forrest Gump, Bambi

Conclusion

In conclusion, delving into Carl Jung’s theory of the 12 archetypes provides UX/UI designers with a profound understanding of the intricate tapestry of human psychology. By incorporating these archetypes into our persona-building process, we unlock a powerful tool for creating user experiences that resonate with the deepest desires of our audience.

As designers, our responsibility extends beyond crafting visually appealing interfaces; we are storytellers weaving narratives that align with the fundamental aspects of the human experience. Jung’s archetypes serve as a guiding light, offering insights into the motivations, strengths, and weaknesses of our users. Understanding that each archetype seeks a distinct outcome allows us to tailor user journeys that not only meet but exceed expectations.

Whether it’s the innovative spirit of the Creator, the authoritative control sought by the Ruler, or the liberating essence of the Outlaw, every archetype brings a unique flavor to the design table. Recognizing the archetypal patterns in our users empowers us to build connections, provide structures, and ultimately create digital experiences that leave a lasting mark.

As we navigate the intricate world of UX/UI storytelling, let us embrace the wisdom of Jung’s archetypes. By doing so, we not only elevate the user experience but also contribute to a digital landscape where every click, swipe, and interaction becomes a meaningful step in a personalized and resonant journey.

In the realm of user-centered design, Jung’s archetypes are more than psychological concepts—they are the keys to unlocking the full potential of empathetic and impactful storytelling, shaping interfaces that connect on a deeper, archetypal level with the diverse array of individuals navigating our digital landscapes.

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