Aesthetic usability effect looks at the concept of how the design of a product influences a consumer’s choice. The theory of aesthetic usability explores the idea of how consumers will often choose a product based on the way it looks as opposed to the way it performs. The general idea behind aesthetic usability is that if a product looks pleasing to the eye then it is likely to be easy to use however, this is not always true (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003). Some products that may look aesthetically pleasing however, they are not always the best choice in terms of usability.
The main concept behind a good aesthetic usability design is to send a positive and appealing image. This is achieved through creating designs that a flexible with design patterns and customization which really allows the consumer to make the product their own. Boulton (2005), describes aesthetic design as a concept that gives products individuality and uniqueness, which creates a brand and gives the product an advantage when it comes to competitive stage in marketing. As Boulton (2005), quotes “Look after the design and the usability will look after itself.” When marketing products the design is extremely important, as it is what gives the product the advantage. Products that do not look aesthetically pleasing are often seen as low quality and are disregarded even if the usability of the product is more efficient. In addition to appearance, an idea that is said to contribute in helping a product become aesthetically pleasing is harmony. This refers to the idea of using a person senses such as sound and touch to make the product more appealing (Lauer & Pentak, 2002). A harmonious balance can determine how accepted a product would be within society.
In the end although it is necessary for a product to be easily used and useful, they may not be desirable and the reverse is also true. The reality of a design is that it must cause minimal irritation for the user and that although poorly designed products are not encouraged, the reality is that appealing appearances are going to be tolerated more than unappealing products (Norman, 2002).
- Boulton, M. (2005). Aesthetic-Usability Effect Retrieved from http://www.markboulton.co.uk/journal/comments/aesthetic-usability-effect
- Lauer, D. A., & Pentak, S. (2002). Balance. Design Basics (pp. 75-98). Australia: Wadsworth.
- Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 18-19). Massachusets: Rockport.
- Norman, D. (2002). Emotion and Design: Attractive things work better. Don Norman: Designing For People, from http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/emotion_design.html
Cars are an example of aesthetics usability. Although cars contain essentially the same parts such as motors, batteries, gear box etc. what sets them aside and makes them all unique is the appearance. The aesthetic design of each car is different and is the reason we have so many different colour cars and different brands of cars such as Hyundai, Mercedes, Lamborghini etc. Appearances are what make a brand unique. When comparing cars, such as a Porsche and a Toyota, if taken apart you would discover that they have the same parts that allow the car to function. It is for that reason that the exterior must be different to allow for a different identity and allows them to be customized specifically for the user. Due to the use of aesthetic usability, consumers are less likely to be irritated when a malfunction happens, as it has come from a brand that they both love and trust.
Although it would be nice to think humans are not an example of aesthetic usability, it is unfortunately not the case. Humans are also an example of aesthetic usability as it is the first impression you make of a person that will determine how you think about them. As an example when choosing ones friends, it is always based on the first impression followed by personality. If for example, you are new to a school and you are deciding whom to talk to, there is one female who is beautiful, cheerful and outgoing, one who is average, gloomy and sitting alone. As a natural reaction, a person would be more inclined to go talk to the person who is more cheerful and outgoing as opposed to the person who is sitting there quietly. It is the same when choosing a phone, the one that looks more appealing would be chosen instead of a less appealing one. Although a lot of factors come into play when choosing friends, such as your own personality, it would still be true to say that you still pick based on first impressions.
Shoes are another form of aesthetic usability. When choosing shoes most females and even some males would choose them for their looks instead of their comfort and practicality. Take stilettos for an example, on first look they would look amazing and would make any girl jealous while improving your own beauty however, there is also a pair of practical shoes that will provide comfort but little style. The natural choice for most females would be to look good so they would pick the stilettos. After purchasing the shoes and wearing them out, only later is it discovered that the shoes are uncomfortable and can only be worn for a short amount of time. In this case stilettos become impractical and is only useful for looking good and does not protect the wearers feet. It is due to the aesthetic usability design which makes the shoes more appealing even though they are not practical.