The Aesthetic-Usability Effect is a condition whereby users perceive more aesthetically pleasing designs to be easier to use than less aesthetically pleasing designs. The effect has been observed in several experiments and has significant implications regarding the acceptance, use, and performance of a design.

Apart from having a great UX, it is equally important to have great UI and Visual Design.

Summary: Users are more tolerant of minor usability issues when they find an interface visually appealing. This aesthetic-usability effect can mask UI problems and can prevent issue discovery during usability testing. Identify instances of the aesthetic-usability effect in your user research by watching what your users do, as well as listening to what they say.

Aesthetic designs look easier to use and have a higher probability of being used, whether or not they actually are easier to use. More usable but less-aesthetic designs may suffer a lack of acceptance that renders issues of usability moot. These perceptions bias subsequent interactions and are resistant to change.

For example, in a study of how people use computers, researchers found that early impressions influenced long-term attitudes about their quality and use. A similar phenomenon is well documented with regard to human attractiveness—first impressions of people influence attitude formation and measurably affect how people are perceived and treated.

You might need to read about

  • The aesthetics factor: The aesthetics factor was manipulated by differing in terms of color combination, visual layout, and text font, which determine the level of aesthetics. According to the study by Hall and Hanna, users perceived websites with white–black and black–white color combinations as less pleasing and stimulating than ones with non-grayscale color combinations.
  • The effect of cognitive style: The interface and functional features of an application can be harmonized or non-harmonized in accordance with a user’s cognitive style. Cognitive styles could be classified into two groups of people-imager and verbalizer, or the Wholist-Analytic and the Verbal-Imagery dimension. So an application success might vary, depending on how it caters to individual cognitive style. Imagers are more influenced by aesthetics factor and tends to utilize the aesthetics features in understanding and using an application.
  • Cultural aesthetics for user interface design: What users perceive as beautiful and usable strongly depends on their cultural background. Thus, the cultural aesthetics is a reasonable way to improve user interfaces and Cultural Adaptivity is a way to increase that. The idea is that websites automatically compose personalized interfaces based on individual cultural backgrounds of its users; this is a deep understanding of the term culture.
  • The influence of design aesthetics in usability testing: Aesthetics designs are more effective at fostering positive attitudes than unaesthetic designs, and make people more tolerant of design problems.

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