Week 9: Aesthetic-Usability Effect

Question 1:

“Visual communication of any kind, whether persuasive or informative… should be seen as the embodiment of form and function: the integration of the beautiful and the useful.” (Rand, 1985, p. 3)

The aesthetic- usability effect occurs when “people perceive more aesthetic designs as easier to use than less aesthetic designs.” (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, 2003). Seen in multiple experiments, this phenomenon relies on the acceptance, use and performance of the design.
More appealing designs have a higher probability of being utilised, as “applications are designed for use.” (Schlatter & Levinson, 2013).  Those that receive less acceptance obtain concerns of usability, as they are less appealing. This ideology has been proven to be consistent through different factors. For example, similar to the first impressions of human attractiveness, researchers discovered that first impressions encouraged long-term attitudes about their quality and use. This concept has also been displayed through the design of the Mini Cooper car, as they have the speed metre placed where the radio should be and the clock positioned on the ceiling. However, people forgive the makers as the car has been designed in an appealing manner. This proves that the “more aesthetically pleasing a product is, the more usable it becomes, even if it isn’t that usable.” (Newbold, 2015).
Positive and negative attitudes relies on how the design looks and how its used. Those designs that evoke positive emotions have significance of how effectively people utilise the designs. Positive and negative relationships with the design results in different interactions. One constructs creative thinking and problem solving, while the other narrows thinking. Customers also have a more positive experience with the product as “people are more productive when they are in a positive mind set.” (Vincent, 2016). Most creators make their designs seem more appealing through colours and making it customisable. This creates a positive relationship with users, making the design’s troubles more tolerable and the devices more successful.

Question 2:

Screen shot 2012-04-12 at 12_00_22 PM
Yap, E. (2008). The Mac vs the PC [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.selangortimes.com/index.php?section=technology&permalink=20120412120255-the-mac-vs-the-pc
Modern laptops and handheld tablets are a common example of aesthetic- usability effect. Dells, Windows and Mac’s tablets and laptops have become the present day form of the past PCs and desktop computers. Created with this replacement intention these new designs are created to look more sleeker, more simple and portable, making them more appealing and easier to use. The thin nature of the tablets and laptops appeal to the users as the object is light weight, allowing them to carry them wherever they need to go. Through these products the designers managed to convey “consistency, hierarchy and personality.” (Schlatter & Levinson, 2013).
All these factors of the effect allows the user to have a more positive experience with the product. As the laptops and tablets update and transform into new appealing designs, the usability levels to the appearance of the product as “form follows function” (Newbold, 2015).

Mason, A. (2017). Buying new vs old [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2017/05/07/1049350_buying-new-car-vs-buying-used-car-heres-smart-way-go.html

Vehicles are constantly evolving with the use of aesthetic- usability effect. The designers create their product with the aesthetic-usability ideology in mind, as it makes the vehicle become more sellable.
Nowadays, dealers are able to make the cars customisable, allowing the customer to make the design appealing to themselves. Vehicles that are less appealing to their owner also highlights their faults, creating a negative reaction in it’s user.
The new technology also makes vehicles become more appealing to the user. The improving multimedia and navigation interfaces placed in modern vehicles also apply to the usability aspect of the effect, as it becomes easier to navigate and control the media for its owner.

Nokia 3310 vs iPhone 6s Throwdown [Image]. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/video/2016/08/nokia-3310-vs-iphone-6s/
Starting with the original Nokia 3310, creators were then more concerned about the usability aspect of the effect. Now with the iPhone age, creators are able to utilise both the aspects of the effect and make an improved product that is well received among the public.
Through each upgrade of the iPhone, the camera quality has improved with it. This improvement of quality assists the usability aspect, allowing its users a more easier and enjoyable experience capturing photographs.
Although the iPhone has countless pros against the Nokia, it does still have a few flaws. The indestructible nature of the Nokia was well known, however the iPhone creators sacrificed this aspect to produce a more lighter and appealing product. While these flaws do exist in iPhones, by creating a more aesthetically pleasing and usable product, these errors are overlooked by the users.



Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 18-19). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Newbold, C. (2015, October 18). Design Principle: Aesthetic- Usability Effect. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2015/10/18/design-principle-aesthetic-usabiltity-effect

Rand, P. (1985). A Designer’s Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Schlatter, T., & Levinson, D. (2013). Visual Usability: Principles and Practices for Designing Digital Applications. Waltham, MA: Elsevier Science.

Vincent, R. (2016, March 2). The Aesthetic Usability Effect- It’s Design Magic! [Blog post]. Retrieved from www.captovate.com.au/blog/aesthetic-usability-effect-its-design-magic


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