Aesthetic Usability Effect
The aesthetic usability effect is the tendency of more aesthetically pleasing objects to be seen not only as more attractive but more reliable and functional by potential users. These users are also understood to be more trusting of aesthetically pleasing technology and more tolerant of errors should they occur (Middleditch & Hand, 2014). Users are significantly more likely to form a personal attachment to aesthetically pleasing objects, creating positive relationships with them and even at times naming or talking to them. This article examines the aesthetic usability effect as it pertains to design, encouraging readers to prioritise more aesthetically pleasing designs as this will lead to consumers creating positive relationships with products and making any flaws in said technology appear more tolerable.
There is a great deal of evidence to support the theory that users are in fact drawn to and sympathetic towards aesthetically pleasing objects and several studies have proven that users are more likely to rate an attractive product higher in usability even if it was a flawed product in other ways (Quinn & Tran, 2010). Attractive products create the emotional reaction of pleasure which can then transform into the more behavioural action of enjoyment. Feeling pleasure upon using a product suggests to the user that all of their needs are being met. This pleasure can come from personal response and opinion (for example perceiving a product as fun, unique or reflective of personal taste) or from socially motivated desires (for example viewing the product as streamlined, professional and sleek) this feeling of pleasure encourages the user to continue to use that product (Verhulsdonck & Limbu, 2013).
Brand stigma in opposition to brand loyalty is also a factor to consider, as a negative aesthetic experience may leave a user with a poor opinion of not only the product but the brand as a whole. In contrast to this good aesthetics can create brand loyalty, creating a more faithful customer base (Cyr, Head, & Ivanov, 2005). A positive relationship with a design is not only beneficial from a sales perspective however, as the article also examines the effect that it may have on a user, such as enhancing creative thinking and problem solving. As a result of all of these aspects the aesthetic usability effect is both valid and useful.
Cyr, D., Head, M., & Ivanov, A. (2005). Design aesthetics leading to m-loyalty in mobile commerce. Elsevier, 950 – 963.
Middleditch, S., & Hand, D. (2014). Design for Media: A Handbook for Students and Professionals in Journalism, PR, and Advertising. Routledge.
Quinn, J. M., & Tran, T. Q. (2010). Attractive Phones Don’t Have To Work Better: Independent Effects of Attractiveness, Effectiveness, and Efficiency on Perceived Usability. CHI 2010, (pp. 353 – 362). Atlanta.
Verhulsdonck, G., & Limbu, M. (2013). Digital Rhetoric and Global Literacies: Communication Modes and Digital Practices in the Networked World: Communication Modes and Digital Practices in the Networked World. IGI Global.