Aesthetic-Usability Effect, a section written by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler and featured in Universal Principles of Design (2003), analyses the ways in which aesthetic designs are used more often than less aesthetic designs. A comparison is made between aesthetic designs and “human attractiveness” (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003, p. 18), where first impressions impact perceptions made and gathered.
This article argues that the way the design looks is specifically important in how it is used. Designs evoke positive feelings from the user that allow them to connect and engage with it.
In relation to design usability, video games are a key factor, where it comes down to the design to engage the player. Adams (2013) states that players engage with the game as long as it does not strain their memory and their view on the game, that is to not bombard the player with unnecessary on-screen information.
Similar findings are reported by Tractinsky, Katz, and Ikar (2000) who details similar discoveries of aesthetic usability, and states the correlation between perception of aesthetics and perception of usability. This was achieved through testing of an ATM, where studies had shown that usability of the machine was due to the perception of its aesthetics, and not from its usability itself.
More evidence to support this was concluded in a 2005 study of twelve Master’s degree students, who discovered that although aesthetic design may not work as well as an unattractive design, it is perceived to work better (Chawda et al., 2005).
Attractive aesthetic design not only seems to work better, but users interacting with the design also base credibility of the creator on it, where a design not only resembles the creator’s input, but the design also generates subconscious emotion and feeling (David & Glore, 2010).
Aesthetic design is more than something that users see. This is a general theme to the article and is backed up by many studies, but it is also representative within our own lives, where we as humans live around aesthetics everyday, and judge and generate feelings accordingly.
Chawda, B., Craft, B., Cairns, P., Ruger, S., Heesch, D., (2005). Do “attractive things work better”? An exploration of
search tool visualisations. Retrieved from
David, A., Glore, P., (2010). The impact of design and aesthetics on usability, credibility, and learning in an online
environment. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, (13, 4).
Lidwell, W., Holden, K., Butler, J., (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. Universal Principles of Design (pp. 18-19).
Tractinsky, N., Katz, A. S., Ikar, D., (2000). What is beautiful is usable (pp. 127-145). Amsterdam: Elsevier.